Why I Love A City

I spent several years in Toronto (for a relationship that tanked) and now, every movie-going experience is fraught. Do you know how often Toronto stands in for New York? I used to be trying to get somewhere and then — NUTS, they’re filming downtown; I gotta go all the way up to High Park station and streetcar it back instead of just getting off at Bloor and Bay.

These days, back in the States, I’ll often turn to my theater companion and say, “LOOK LOOK, that’s Toronto” — because there it is, all its chilly dirty city air and metal laid out in HD: my doctor’s office!* the place with that incredible dark sipping chocolate! — and my theater companion will say “Oh?” as I sit alone in the experience just like I did when it was real. I was lonely in Toronto, but today– because we’re going into Chicago — I’m thinking about what I loved.

Everyone has to at least PRETEND they’re liberal in a city. Even a cab driver from the most viciously backward, woman-hating nation on Earth has to pretend he’s cool with it when six tipsy dykes pile into his backseat and giggle, “We’re going to 420 Fest, hee hee hee!” He might be thinking, May your uncleanness be cleft with a mighty sword, or, more benignly, These crazy white people, who can understand them? but all he’s going to do is roll his eyes and say, “OK, put on seat belt.”

Also, in a city, you never know who you’re interacing with. The woman working security in the subway could easily be a Pakistani doctor who fled a forced marriage/honor killing acid/attack; the man next to you at the museum could be wanted for war crimes in Bosnia. Almost no one in a city is originally from there, so you’re always surrounded by three or four or eight million stories.

I love city food. I used to go to a place in Koreatown called something like “Enjoyable Restaurant.” It had no English menus, so I’d just point, and usually whatever I got was delicious.

I think crazy people in cities are sometimes prophets.

And everything stays open late.

And museums.

*Where bloodwork that would have cost $600 in the States was…free. Oh, how I love socialized medicine.

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2 thoughts on “Why I Love A City

  1. I don’t like cities overall, but you do point out some of the things I like about them. I’ve been happiest living in the country. It’s mainly the pace of life. I grew up in the city and never knew you could sit quietly next to a pond in the country for hours and watch things happening. Cities go too fast for my brain or something. But the intriguing people and excellent restaurants, bookstores, museums, yes, I do like or love some of these, even passionately.

    Your observations about people acting liberal were memorable.

  2. Thank you 🙂 I, too, am torn between the concrete jungle and wide open spaces. Ethiopian food at 3 a.m. vs. a starry night sky; a subway ride to the museum vs. a picnic and a paddleboat…

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