My time in New York was absolutely the most important, impactful, epic 18 months of my life. It’s with a heady mix of sorrow, excitement and the fumes from evaporating plastics that I accept it is time to move on to the next phase: settling down on a blazing garbage dump fire.

When I first told my friends I was moving, their reaction was anything but supportive. “Are you insane?!” they sneered. “It’s literally garbage that’s literally on fire?” they cajoled. “You’ll die if you live in an inferno of refuse!” they condescended. As if anyone could live outside of New York!

The fact is that we New Yorkers like to look down our noses at anyone who lives anywhere that isn’t here (and isn’t a literal pile of garbage). And don’t even get me started on the whole “on fire” thing! Did you know that we’ve become so accustomed to not being on fire that we have entire stations full of people whose only job is to put out fires? Just three months ago, I was so caught up in the NYC mindset, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about calling these “fire men” if even a small fire broke out in my apartment anytime, day or night. That’s the city that never sleeps for you.

My wakeup call came one day over brunch. I was sitting there eating a six-dollar scone when I realized the bakery that made that scone sends THE VERY SAME SCONES to the incinerator that started the garbage fire. Here I was, cramped, waiting 40 minutes for a table for the privilege of paying six dollars for a scone when I could be eating the exact same thing for next to nothing, with all the space I like! If I’d just trade a table for an old drum of fish trimmings and the oppressive New York humidity for a nice, dry fire. I felt pretty dumb.

And I’ve already met a ton of like-minded people who have traded it all for the simpler life of the ol’ basura en fuego (that might not be right: I picked up as much as I could from an old Spanish textbook I found there before it vaporized). There’s Dan, the landlord. He’s the kind of salt-of-the-Earth guy who doesn’t care what you do as long as you give him $20 to get into the dump. I’m not sure many New Yorkers would understand his libertarian charm. And then there’s Yuri, the guy who’s always dumping body bags full of just regular garbage. What a nut. We’re trying to get a softball team together. That’s pretty much it for now, but I hear other creative New Yorkers are flocking here with blazing speed. (That’s the kind of highbrow humor we appreciate in the valley between the tires and the organic waste.)

And what if I want to raise kids one day? Can you put a price on having the space to throw a ball around with your son? Or melt down Legos with your daughter so you can finally make curved shapes? Plus, I hear the schools are top-notch.

We have a saying down at the garbage fire, “AAAAAAHHHH! NO!! It burns!!!!” I think that about sums up how I feel about the move: “NO!!” about leaving but “It burns!!!!” about the excitement of the garbage fire. It won’t be New York, but it has plenty going for it. I think I’m gonna really come to enjoy the way it consumes my flesh. So next time you see me, forgive the satisfied look in the hollows where my eyes used to be. I’ll just be loving that sweet, free life of a literal giant, flaming pile of garbage.