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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love And Fear Of Cities

Cities are places where lots of people can live in each other's pockets and everybody can buzz the hell out of everybody and, yes, I believe they're alive. Some jump 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 like 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. A few years go by and and there's the city at the 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 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.

And we must remember we are also objects of affection and security to our cities. 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.