Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Great Things about the City

I've been living in a city for awhile now (shut up, Big Apple, Boston counts), and most of the time I just long to return to my home state. There are days when I am so beaten down that I even wish I could return to my homeTOWN which, let me paint a picture: I lived in a tiny town where people had rural routes for addresses. We had a gas station (Cumby's), a post office, and a Dairy Queen (my first job and the source of endless fodder for stories). We also, at times, had a used bookstore, a carpet store, and a couple of junk stores (none so majestic as Dot's Good Deals). But I'm turning over a leaf for the big one-three. Here's to positivity! And there really are some wonderful things about living in a city.
1. It's pretty! Sure, you have to look beyond the sidewalks coated with gum and spit globs, past the stink of urine on every street, even past that crazy lady outside the train station with what appears to be cockroaches in her hair. Look past all that! In those rare moments when I'm at work after dark, way up on the 32nd floor (well, 31st, there isn't a 13th floor), those twinkly lights take my breath away. And even without the cloak of darkness hiding the dreck, you never know when you'll turn a corner and see an amazing piece of architecture, or a bright work of art, or even (honestly!) that first beautiful flower of the spring. You just have to look for it. Is it as breathtaking as the ocean off the coast of Maine? Not even close. But it'll do, for now.
2. There's always someone to talk to. You know how it is... you move to a new city, you don't know anyone... you make a few friends eventually but still most days it's just you and the Internet and the overwhelming urge for nachos that get you out of the house. Right? C'mon! I know I'm not alone! Anyway. I have had many and varied conversations with absolute strangers. Most are simple and short, just enough to give the old vocal chords a workout. But some stick with me, and I'm so glad I was just out and about, with some free time for a talk. There was an old lady who told me not to worry, I'd find true love (how did she know???); the man who had recently been given a trailer but waxed nostalgic about the good times he had living on the street; the old lady who critiqued my purchases in the checkout line and then told me her secret to long life (what can I say? I have a way with the elderly). I admit to often wearing blinders, disappearing into my iPod and avoiding eye contact with those people shilling for charities on the corners. But it's nice to know that when I'm craving a little human contact, it's there.
3. Food. Okay so, this is a double-edged sword. Of course it's impossible to walk an entire block without hitting a Starbucks AND a Dunkin' Donuts, but add to that myriad bagel shops, burrito joints, cupcake emporiums, indie coffee shops, ethic cuisine.... And therein lies the answer to how I managed to pack on more than thirty pounds in the first year I lived here. In a city, you can find absolutely any kind of food you want, and probably they deliver. But of course it can be a con too, if you can't remind yourself that the cupcakes will be there tomorrow.
Step away.
4. Public Transportation. Yeah, so I live by The MBTA Ruined My Life (SO TRUE), but I also haven't owned a car in over two years and don't miss it except when I go home. Yes, public transport takes more planning and more time, but shit! I can get wherever I need to go (even to nature!). And when the train won't suffice (say... after last call when the train has stopped running), there are abundant cabs. Anyone who's ever had to nurse a jalopy to health every couple months and always sweats annual inspection appreciates (fairly) reliable rides to and from work. Done.
5. Boredom be damned! People always say this, but it's true! You can always find something to do! Of course I'm a student so I have more free options (so... many... museums!), but on a lovely January (!) day recently I just hit the street. There are street performers everywhere (just this evening I heard a couple of beatboxers downtown), free tours of historical and/or significant landmarks, people watching opportunities... and if you're not a cheap bastard, there are always plays and shows and movies and musicians and on and on. Actually, this makes it a little frustrating that my Internet dates have all been so bland.

I don't know what my own future holds, if I'll find a job back home or here in Beantown or maybe even in the Big Apple (!), but until I can afford to have a little cottage on the shore (I'm picturing a Maine island... Vinalhaven? Monhegan?), I can get by in the city. At least I won't be bored.