For Ms. Didion, in other words, money was simply an excuse. The reality was, in the relatively cheap New York of the 1960s, even a Vogue junior staff member like her — making $70 a week — could secure a centrally located Manhattan apartment with a view of, she thought, the Brooklyn Bridge (“It turned out the bridge was the Triborough,” she dryly amended) and pay for taxis to parties where she might see “new faces.” Sure, the early days were tough — “some weeks I had to charge food at Bloomingdale’s gourmet shop in order to eat,” she wrote. But in general, she could afford to hang around long enough to determine when she had stayed “too long at the Fair.” In sum, she could afford to fall out of love with the city slowly.
Not so for the would-be Didions of today. In their New York, the nice apartments with the bridge views tend to go to the underwriters of bond issues, not to the writers of essays for literary anthologies. The unaffordability of New York on a writer’s budget is a theme running through several contemporary variations on the theme.
I’ve been enjoying the book Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York written about in the article above; in doing so it’s occurred to me again that many of our stresses are caused by the fact that there’s just too damn many of us:
The world’s population is now more than 7 billion and continues to grow by 82 million people per year. During the last half-century, the world’s population more than doubled. Between 1960 and 2010, the world population rose from 3 billion to 6.8 billion. In other words, there has been more growth in population in the last fifty years than the previous 2 million years that humans have existed. Currently the rate of population increase is 1.2% per year, which means the planet’s human population is on a trajectory to double again in 58 years.
Which of course makes the idea of this movie laughable (and I can’t help but think how much better off the planet would be with less baby food jars, diapers, toys, etc.):
The combined stressors of too many people competing for jobs, wealth inequality, and the lengthening lifespan (elderly parents to support, the idea of supporting one’s own self through all the extra decades)… it all adds up. It’s no wonder the number of childless women is increasing.