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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love And Fear Of Cities

 This being Lupercalia, and Valentine's Dayish, I thought it apposite to trot out this sentimental old essay about LOVE and FEAR:
 
Cities are places where lots of people live in each others pockets and everybody buzzes the hell out of everybody and, yes, I believe cities are alive. Some run up and lick you like big friendly dogs. Others rub against your legs. Always wear pants in cities. They are populated by people who are busy making money, laws and disease. I've lived in cities and cheerfully did these things too.

But always, I felt the call to see out and responded to it. I'd leave the city's heart, ooze through its suburban adipose tissue and find space. You can't really escape its circulatory system because roads connect all cities, but you can get pretty far. Cities, like opossums, grow all their lives. You move out, then by and by, there's the city at your door wanting stuff --new taxes, zone revisions and a wider road out front. This indicates cities are organisms of protracted adolescence.

We must never forget we are the parents of our cities and must always be ready to listen. This is not easy at my age because of all the times I had to hold infant cities and sing "Old Man River" until they stopped crying and got to sleep. I am right-handed, which is why I can't hear so good in my left ear. Other parents will understand.

We must also remember we are objects of affection and security to our cities. They love us. We are like stuffed animals deformed by a million hugs. There are worse ways to end up. I don't know what they are but I fear them like anything.

24 comments:

  1. Deformed by a million hugs. Hmm.

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    1. Yes Suze, I'm afraid the affection of cities has shifted my stuffing.

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  2. And somedays the hugs of the air in the country just about squeeze my stuffing out. In the nicest possible way...

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    1. Ha! We can take infinite hugging before our kapok is kaput!

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  3. I had twins; I'm deaf in both ears! An interesting if somewhat romantic idea of a city, is it not? Cities, well some of them, do have a certain charm but they outgrow us, as they should.

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    1. Thanks Tom, for cogent comment and exclamation point --without which I wouldn't have heard the 1st sentence.

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  4. I've lived in cities and lived in the country...if I had my druthers I'd go back to the country in a heart beat.

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    1. Agreed! Unfortunately it's my heartbeat that keeps me close to the city, where there's cardiologists. But this used to be countryside here until about 10 years ago.

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  5. I love the city I live in.
    Nice post, Geo

    Happy Valentines day :)

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    1. I can think of no higher recommendation for The Mile-High City! Happy Valentine to you too.

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  6. An admirably apt observation of the city and - I think - a heartfelt Valentine to the concept of Metropolitan life. The older I get, the more I like to distance myself from cities, but - as you said - they have an uncanny way of eventually showing up at our rural doors "wanting stuff".

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    1. That they do, Jon. Sometimes I wish cities were more like opossums, cats and skunks who just want to fossick for food in my yard, but sadly cities have law on their side and make me pay. I prefer the critters.

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  7. "They are populated by people who are busy making money, laws and disease." So much making-ness in cities. Things birthed we can't even name. Love it. (Fear it.)

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    1. Love and fear, prudent responses to the energetic, beautiful monsters cities are.

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  8. Dear Geo.,
    hahaha: "suburban adipose tissue" gives me a complete new outlook on the Wannsee and the Grunewald and all those green-blue forest&water-rings around the city. See them now like a huge inflated swimming ring - also called 'spare tyre', I think.

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    1. Cities must stay afloat. Happy Valentine's Day!

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  9. I am a rural person at heart. Part of that is because that's where I was raised and how I grew up, and part of it is because the calmness and serenity of rural living eases my mind and my soul. I work in a city, but live in the country. Perfect balance for me :)

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    1. A very important balance for me too!

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  10. I am presently in search of a deformed stuffed animal. I shall look for one in the city, as I believe your post is divinely inspired.
    ;)
    xo

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    1. Kind Austan, thank you but my writings are considered extracanonical by all sensible religions --good thing too!

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  11. It sounds like you have a love-hate relationship with cities. So do Smarticus and I... I love the high-octane hustle and bustle of a city, and he hates it. Not that I want to live in one, but I do enjoy the jolt of adrenaline on those rare occasions when we visit. Like you say, cities have a way of spreading out, though. We used to kinda live in "the sticks." Not any more. We've been in the same place for 43 years, but the place just ain't the same. Hmmm, then again, I don't suppose we are, either.

    I hope you're feeling better now.

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    1. Yes, it's a replicating pattern, sticks paved over. Norma shares your enjoyment of cities --I grudgingly tolerate the convenience. And yes, feeling almost as human as I ever get. After 2 weeks of flu, I feel like sticks paved over too!

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  12. Funny how your post combines negative with affectionate. I guess it's a gift.

    The city is in the process of eating the half-hour distance from my old house to my grandparents' that used to be rural. On the other hand, when I re-visited my OLD old house after 15 years, I was shocked to find the town almost completely unchanged. So I guess it depends what part of the country you are in. And how far away you started from CITY.

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    1. Jen, I'm afraid it depends heavily on the developers. Some design with respect to what came before and preserve vineyards, indigenous plants, and regional history as selling points. Others pave over all the old oaks, maples, elms then name streets after them. Cities grow at different rates, but they grow. Glad to hear your area has some conscientious planners.

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