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Saturday, January 23, 2010

"I love this place enough to have no doubt."

I love the city.

When I tell adults this, they look at me sorrowfully in their wisdom of experience, almost pitying my youthful enthusiasm that promises to be crushed by time. They tell me I've never lived in the city, which is quite true, and that I would probably appreciate the city less after living in it. They tell me the glossy glass and brownstone facades of Providence and Boston and San Francisco and Washington, DC are not the real city scene, and I'm in love with the idea of the city. All of which might very well be true.

But by the same token, it was not the financial district of San Francisco that inspired my admiration, or the grassy quaintness of Victoria Row, but rather the disgusting old hotels and sketchy internet cafes in the Tenderloin. It feels like I've walked all over DC's carefully planned grid system, and while I was falling for the historical monuments I was also roused by the briskly timed crosswalks and concrete parking garages. As much as the East Side and picturesque Brown campus excites me, I'm equally enthralled by the gaudy yellow color of the Providence Rescue Mission. And I love every block of Boston as much as the next, especially the musty smell of the crowded train stations.

Still, it's true that my experience with the city is limited. While I'm no stranger to public transit or navigating street maps, I've never even been to the Big Apple. Currently I live in the suburbs. I don't really spend much time in the city right now. And even though I've wandered around the dangerous parts of the Tenderloin and South Providence, I am terrible naive about danger. But I'm also big into the sovereignty of God, so, I don't put much stock in those sort of environmental fears. Still, I'm not terribly "street smart". The only thing I can foresee as being a nuisance if I were ever to actually live in the city for an extended period of time is, people throwing their trash on the ground. That would really tick me off. Also, there are no woods in the city. This might be a problem.

But I don't know. I don't think my infatuation with the city is fleeting. Those things others find inherently obnoxious are the very things I appreciate so much. Things like homeless people and public transit and the loudness and busyness of it all. I love the feeling that civilization is happening, and constantly being surrounded by people and society. I love stony-faced people on the street who pretend to ignore everything around them: I think I would be good at that. I love the telephone poles covered in staples and I love walking everywhere and I love all the cheap food in well-represented variety and I love the smokey smell of construction sites and machinery and I love all the different buildings and I love what I've seen thus far.

So maybe life will give me occasion to find out if I really love the city or not.

5 comments:

Art said...

I miss you. I miss everything you love without me. It's all so bittersweet.

Luke said...

It is nice living in the city. ...everything is right outside your door.

Though my experience of city life has been different than what I would expect living in New York or Boston would be like. Though we do have traffic and when I look out my window I see graffiti. =P

K-Mac said...

let's move to Boston together!

[/slightly related: i really liked this post]

Lala said...

So i think we should really take that trip to the met....it would be great. But also im super pumped and stoked that our youth ministry has chosen NY for this summer...Because i really would like to go and not necessarily for the city life but just because it would be amazing.

Hayley said...

Ah ah ah! I know! I'm so freaking excited like there aren't even WORDS! [And I feel the need to repeatedly extrovert this excitement, I feel like someone with a cold coughing all over the place. :P] I SO hope I can go, and I SO hope you can go, gah, YWAM NYC is like, :sigh: heroic.