Spoilers ahead for the Girls episode “Goodbye Tour.”
As Hannah Horvath is heading upstate for the Girls finale, we imagined the inevitable Joan Didion–style essay that she would publish about leaving New York.
New York, it’s not me: It’s you. You’re gross. I’ve spent years — roughly six, though it’s hard to keep track — in this city and I’ve learned pretty much nothing. It’s time for me to go.
I came here because I wanted to be a writer, and I still do, though the city didn’t help as much as I expected it to. It turns out that there are a lot of people who want to be writers. Some of your classmates might become very successful out of the blue, while you tread along not accomplishing as much as you wanted. New York is full of experience, they say, but most of what I have experienced I would like to forget, including the time I stuck a Q-tip into my eardrum.
I stayed in the city for my friends, I think, or maybe just because I thought was supposed to. My friends aren’t really my friends any more at this point. We always managed to twist conversations with each other back to ourselves in the name of being “good friends.” I guess that’s what happens when you try to force the people you knew in college to stay together, even as they all grow apart, get married, get divorced, move to a different state or country, and then come back again. In the end, I think we liked the concept of being friends more than we liked the experience of our friendships. What we wanted from each other — attention, mostly — we never seemed to get in practice.
Maybe this is the larger fantasy of New York, the idea that you have to be somewhere for your life to work, even if you end up hating the life you’re living. Simply being in the city feels like an accomplishment itself. I thought I had to be in New York to be a writer, though I guess I can do that anywhere. I didn’t really need to keep the same friends. As for my relationships — well, I pray for you that you never have the experience of an ex coming back into your life, offering you everything you might ever need, and realizing it’s not what you wanted.
Did I mention that I’m pregnant? It came by surprise, and I don’t want it to be the reason I’m leaving, even if in some larger sense it might be. I’m doing this for me, just as I’m having the baby for me. It’s time, I’ve realized, to stop trying to be something I’m not. New York — big, smelly, competitive, exhausting — is only really tolerable if you’re pretending it’s something it’s not.
I don’t know if I learned anything from New York, but I know that it always feels like I do when I leave: When I went to Iowa, or back home to see my parents, or even to the fancy surf camp where I met my improbably handsome baby daddy. I don’t know if things will really change once I leave, or once I have my baby, but I know it’ll feel big and final. For some reason, my life needs something big and final right now. So, I’m leaving New York. After all, there’s nothing more final than that.
If anyone wants to, like, suddenly discover my voice and give me a book deal, I’ll be back in an instant.