I don’t live in the city. I live in the country, on 200 acres of green grass and sunshine. I live where most people escape to. The tranquility and simplicity of the land is nothing to me – not because I don’t appreciate it, but because it’s ordinary. The silence and serenity are a part of each day of my life. After a while, I don’t notice the singing of a Goldfinch or the snapping of a branch under my foot. The hoot of an owl doesn’t startle me, just as the sound of a siren wouldn’t startle a city dweller. My senses are numb to nature.
I trust other places to bring me an escape from the monotonous pattern of my life. I go downtown, or uptown, or to Dinkytown. I spend the afternoon combing through the extravagant racks at Saks Fifth Avenue, or sitting in a Caribou or Starbucks, reading. I people-watch – businessmen coming home from work and women out for lunch and shopping. The sounds of horns, and squeaking brake pads and footsteps all blend together creating a beat. The carefree chitchat adds words to the song and the streets begin to play music. I remember a commercial for some car – maybe a Volkswagen – in which the car’s passengers watched in amazement as the windshield wipers began to keep rhythm with everything surrounding them. That’s what it is like. There is a pattern to the hustle and bustle of the city, and I’m a vital part of it.
The city is people. We as humans made it and we sustain it. It isn’t like the countryside that could exist with or without me. The city needs me, and you, to be vibrant. There is a concentrated richness that no other place can achieve. Once I saw a Muslim woman in colorful robes conversing with an older man, who looked to be a Jewish Rabbi, and a tall, dark black man with his Fubu starter jacket buttoned up tightly for protection from the crisp breeze. I have no idea what they were talking about. Maybe they were old friends or perhaps just checking to see if bus 11 to the City Center had come yet. But that isn’t what matters. It is the idea. The idea that so many cultures can live together and rely on each other, because diversity makes the city what it is just as much as the variations in architecture do.
Each city is so different. Its buildings, its people, its mood. I go downtown to escape and when I come home my senses are awakened again. I notice nature and appreciate it. I appreciate it like I appreciate the city for what it is – big, warm, busy and uniquely human.