How to convince my boyfriend to move to BK from New Orleans?

So your ex-boyfriend is coming to visit you in Brooklyn for a two-week trial period to “see if he could see himself actually living here” and while you believe it’s impossible to for him to really know in such a short, pressure-cooker of a visit, you miss him and you want him to move here, so you’re entertaining the idea that this trip could seal the deal.

You two dated three years — two spent together in New Orleans, one apart when you moved to New York — until the distance became too much and you had to break up. But it turns out you still care about each other and most of your problems resulted from being apart. You both are working off the premise he’s just not that into New York, but definitely still into you. So what makes up the perfect sales pitch?  He’s from New Jersey, (please, he knows what New York is like, he doesn’t need to try it on) but “found himself” in New Orleans — where you were born and raised — one among so many Northeast transplants who moved down to do post-Katrina relief work and became born-again Yats. Some days he annoyed the piss out of you with their green (in both senses of the word) enthusiasm; other days you envied the way he magically became enchanted with your city, whereas for you, so much of it became old, waterlogged news, and you were drowning.

You needed to grow up. But it’s hard to break the spell. In New Orleans, he currently rents a two-bedroom with his best friend for $500/each, inside a compound that boasts a swimming pool, tennis court and football field-sized lawn. Beer costs $1.50, and dive bars are authentically that way, as opposed to here, where they’re curated like a pair of scuffed-up jeans in an Anthropologie display window.

Dudes roast pigs and boil crawfish and shuck oysters because they grew up doing it, not because the burgeoning twee movement provides a safe space for them to role-play masculinity. There, you can sit on the banks of the bayou at dusk and enjoy a glass of wine, your car parked right across the street (in one of five open spaces) your dog sitting next to you, maybe leashed, maybe not, but free to wander down to the water or maybe run up on a group of idling ibis; in short, the cops won’t slap a ticket across your ass just for breathing. You still shit on New York, in your mind, when you compare it to New Orleans, your first love. But it’s first love in the way your mother is and you have to wean yourself off her someday.

Here, you’ve made new friends, explored new neighborhoods, begun to understand how people live in another part of the country. You write for a cool blog and your resume is slowly stacking up with name-brand publications. There, 200 journalists lost their jobs after the daily paper went part-time, and you can count the other writing outlets on one hand.

In your opinion, he needs to grow up too. A bunch of his friends have left New Orleans, off to grad school or better job opportunities on the east or west coast. He just quit his job of three years and took the LSAT, idly pondering law school while working odd jobs to break even. There are plenty of schools and odd jobs up here! And not-so-odd ones too; he’s unequivocally in his late twenties now. Maybe it’s time to start gathering twigs for that nest?

During past visits, you’ve fed him soup dumplings from Joe’s Ginger, $3 falafel sandwiches from Oasis, slices from this random spot on Delancey and Attorney that just might rival those from his beloved hometown pizzeria. You’ve wandered through Prospect Park with the dog, traipsed across bridges, spent a weekend in a cabin in the Adirondacks in early fall, when the leaves were just starting to change.
Over the past year, you’ve made sure to call him not to complain about how poor and dejected you are (okay, sometimes you did) but only when things are good, when you’ve just had sooo much fun, for free: “I just saw Do the Right Thing projected outside in the courtyard of this super cool Cuban restaurant, you would have loved it” or “I just saw Jimmy Cliff in Prospect Park” or “My friends and I spent all day at Fort Tilden, it turns out the Atlantic has better waves than the Gulf and it’s only an hour away! Isn’t it amazing the beach is only an hour away?”
For these two weeks he’s visiting, you’re planning: a day trip to the beach, maybe as far as Montauk, if you can inspire him to seek out the end. You want to take him to the transit museum, in hopes it’ll make the subway seem romantic. The Tortilleria Mexicana off the Jefferson stop in Bushwick, because they make their own tortillas! (And if he ever moves here, that’s a neighborhood you guys could maybe afford.) Shake Shack at night in Madison Square Park, with the lights strung above your heads. Maybe one day you’ll wake up and go kayaking for free on the Hudson River.
You’ll make sure to show him old-school, immigrant Brooklyn — Di Faro’s Pizza, Randazzo’s — look at the history here! It’s not all hipster transplants, you swear! You’ll take him to Brighton Beach, where you’ll name drop Jonathan Ames (and he won’t be impressed) and you’ll sit outside at a bar on the boardwalk, and when you order “Russian beer” off the menu, the waitress will ask you, “Which kind you want? We have the 3, 5, 7 and the 9,” and you’ll ask him if he can guess what the numbers signify (alcohol percentages, you learned from a previous trip).

And you’ll write a blog post asking everyone if they know any surefire lures that’ll make a man bite down and never let go. The transitive property doesn’t necessarily apply here: if he loves you, and you love Brooklyn, that doesn’t mean he has to love Brooklyn too. And if you can’t convince him to stay, well, at least New Orleans is a place you’ll always want to visit.

Follow Kate @yatinbrooklyn

20 Comment

  • I’d like to take an objection: this post is tagged “first person”, but it’s clearly written in the 2nd person.

    However, to answer the question:

    1 – Be his sugar momma. It’s always risky to upset the turnip cart if you are worried you won’t be able to make rent. the #1 way to get him up here (without a job) is to basically just give him money.

    2 – New Orleans is dangerous. Can you stage a triple-homicide on his block (bonus points for “gang-related”) as a fire under his butt he needs to get out of NOLA? [don't forget to send condolences to the victim's families]

    • First Person: fixed.
      That tapping sound you hear is Kate working on her Sugar Mama Kickstarter campaign.

  • Kate this is so lovely

  • The only reason to move to NYC (yes, including Brooklyn) is to realize ambition. So, yes, it’s fitting that you started with your growing list of name brand publications. Unless your boyfriend has a gnawing discontent of his own, your quest is hopeless.

    All the other stuff you mention (the beach, the free summer movies and concerts, the historical & contemporary immigrant communities) is easily accessible on a visit, without having to pay thousands of dollars a month in rent. And, those of us who live here know that most NYers are working so much to hustle up their rent money that they don’t have time to indulge in all that stuff most of the time anyway.

  • Also, ain’t it?

  • The solution? Never date anyone ever.

  • I’d be more concerned he’s considering law school. Doesn’t he read the paper, err Internet? That’s just a setup for a lifetime of debt. Run! That being said, the sign of mature relationship is when you can come together and make a decision for the benefit of the couple (fully aware that one or both people have to make a sacrifice). Best luck.

  • When I first started reading this I was like damn I GOT THIS, as my boyfriend is a born and raised New Orleanian and I have been a New Yorker for as long as I can remember, and my convincing seemed successful… but then I was like WAIT you’re from New Orleans? he’s from JERSEY?!?

    Anyway, I disagree with whoever said you can get the benefit of doing fun free things when you visit because, no, not to the same extent. Reasons why I left New Orleans include a) dangerousness b) job opportunities c) obviously, ny is home ((though I do love New Orleans)) d) I can’t drive…, reasons my boyfriend left were a) me and b) as I think is the case for many new orleanians, he left new orleans for college but then transferred back after 2 years, so he’s been there most of his life. c) opportunities.

    One of the things I love about New Orleans is that living there, I knew exactly what and where every bar/restaurant/venue was, one of the things i love about New York City is that even if I live here for the rest of my life, there will always be places and things I’ve never experienced before. New York is big and awesome that way.

    I also think New Orleans is a great place to start a small business, pick up some skills in ny, move back later?

  • Show him how easy it is to see all the movies out. Boy loves movies.

  • Is there a version of this article for people who live in Manhattan/Queens? Because even getting them to visit is a tough sell. Although to be fair, I haven’t tried the Transit Museum yet.

  • I wish I had some sage advice. I can’t even get my dude to move here from Philly, and he’s less than 100 miles away.

  • This is beautiful and inspirational! I wish you were trying to get me to come to New York. He might not get along with New York, but its better than talking on the phone, then! I would pursue this line of argumentation

  • “In New Orleans, he currently rents a two-bedroom with his best friend for $500/each, inside a compound that boasts a swimming pool, tennis court and football field-sized lawn.” Yeah, well, real estate is cheap in Somalia, too.

  • Since he is from the area and has been to NYC a number of times, I think you need to show him how he could create a life here: friends, work, school, leisure. Maybe get some friends together for drinks at a bar that has outdoor picnic tables. How would his employment opportunities benefit? Visit one of the law schools he is thinking of attending. Also, while NOLA has a lot of the same stuff most larger cities have, NYC has more choices/variety. Maybe find an event or two that would be of particular interest to him (syfy exhibits, punk show, an author speaking, touch football leagues, craft fair, activist/benefit, urban/community gardens). Oh, and the no car thing is a real +, especially if there is a money concern. While NYC is more expensive to rent, I no longer have a car note or insurance to pay for. And with public transit and cabs, I never have to worry about a designated driver or getting home.

  • If you’re boyfriend ends up moving, can I have his apartment in New Orleans?? I’ve been trying to convince the universe and my bank account to let me move down there.

  • Brooklyn vs New Orleans? I’d take New Orleans any day of the week…..I don’t really get the whole point of even living in NYC anymore. Did it for so long…..

    • I’m with you. NOLA born and bread, Brooklyn for 15 years. Moved when Brooklyn and Manhattan started to go Twee and SuperLux. The shame of it is that even with the crime in NOLA (I know three people who were murdered) it’s worth the risk just to not have to see a Brooklyn Industries or a cupcake shop.

  • Nothing I can think of. Come use over 50% of your monthly income on less than 500 sq ft of personal space in the middle of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder open ward?

    This article has convinced me to try New Orleans. But then I’m not too “bratty” for Queens, whatever that means.

  • Writer, you marry him.

  • Lived in New Orleans 2 years. Living in Brooklyn now. Stamford native.

    I made a lot of friends in NOLA very fast and miss them very much. There’s a lot I miss about the city (people not giving a fuck, delicious food, cheap drinks, cheap rent), but I left because it was too dangerous, too hot, and too backwards (blue island in a red state, but even at that….).

    Brooklyn is safer, more progressive, exponentially better mass transit, & has healthier food options. However, it is FAR more self-important, unnecessarily expensive, & douchier. I’m moving to Queens next month because I want to be surrounded by immigrants. I’m only here because there’s an abundance of people in NYC who don’t want an apartment share with a couple, & this was the first place that was OK with it.

    I convinced my girlfriend to move from New Orleans to NYC, but it was a compromise…there’s another, cheaper place I’d rather be in the Northeast, but I’d rather not say, because I want it to stay cheap & as moron-free as possible in case I ever get the chance to move back.