Last autumn, as I was driving home, I noticed a huge flock of geese flying south in perfect formation. The sight of these birds was marvelous and made me wonder just how many more of them were leaving, and how they all knew it was time to go. That night, I thought about all the people, just like me, who had left the city behind. More and more, I’m hearing of friends and acquaintances who want to get out, mostly due to the rising costs of urban life—and not just the financial costs. As with the geese, what’s significant about this collective thinking is how sudden and uniform it seems.

When I was in New York City, I was a worker bee—one among many and virtually indistinguishable from the rest. I did what everyone else did: I worked hard and played hard. I went to meetings and parties and befriended people in order to get ahead. I went to trendy restaurants and art openings, read the New Yorker occasionally and complained about the deteriorating culture of the city. Took taxis. Drank lattes. And, I was broke and unhappy. On the surface, my husband and I had everything, but on paper it was another story. As the lease on our apartment expired, it became clear that none of this life was truly ours. This realization prompted us to take full ownership of our lives and, in 2012, of a house in the country. A few months later, we gave up our city life.

How do you recognize when the time has come for change? For some of us, it takes a great tide or tragedy to sweep away what we have. For others, it suddenly just crystallizes that life would be better off elsewhere. And there are those who simply follow their hearts into the unknown. But it’s that very unknown that prevents so many from making a move. You stay up late worrying about the future, or you wake up in a panic wondering:  “Will I still be relevant?” “Will I lose my edge?” “Does my work still matter?” “Do I?” In other words, “Is there life after the city?”

I hope this spring issue helps put those questions in perspective. Clearly, there is life after the city—and that life is beautiful. Since I’ve arrived upstate, I’ve grown so much. I stand out in a new way. I can see the difference that I make to my family, to my community and to myself. I’m not alone in this. So many of us are experiencing this transformation, blossoming and discovering that life outside the city limits is equally, if not more, enriching. Perhaps now is the time for you to spring forward.

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
Come to the edge!
And they came,
and he pushed,
and they flew.

— Chris Logue

Nhi Mundy