Tuesday, May 17, 2005

my kinda town, chicago is

new york, new york... it's a urine-filled town!

i'm back from my weekend trip to new york city. i had much fun hanging out with my gothamite friends, neither of whom are over five feet tall. at 5'2.5", i felt like an amazon. it's amazing how different circumstances change your perception of things.

there was a time when my singlehood was gnawed off from coupledom, painfully new and raw, that i visited new york city and fell in love with it. bear in mind that i was there with a performance group and staying in a posh hotel in midtown with all expenses paid. everything was available, open late, easily accessible. people moving briskly without being frantic gets my seal of approval. brio, efficiency, zeal for achievement in the people was captivating. i could so live here, i thought.

having gone without the responsibility of shielding the young eyes of 15 midwestern teens from that which they may not appreciate on a very pricey trip, i see new york differently.

manhattan does not support life. it's trying to tell us it's inhabitable and no one is listening, not even conan o'brien whom we saw out to breakfast. it's trying to tell us to get the hell off already. for one, there is an extreme paucity of nature. cement as far as the eye can see. i didn't notice this before because i was there in november, but unless you're going to gorgeous central park, you see no grass. you see sickly trees. the pansies and begonias planted in front of chi-chi apartment buildings are hating their lives, street spray speckling their wilted petals.

i thought about chicago streets: even closer to the loop, i remembered there are usually very small plots of grass that flank the sidewalks under trees. i asked my friends, "dude. where do dogs take a gang?" sunday morning, i was witness to a dozen or more small breeds defying their natural instinct to poop on a soft, absorbent surface. you could tell they weren't real pumped about hunching to crap on the sidewalk, surrounded by a forest of legs. the owners weren't real pumped about hunching over to pick them up either, leaving an indelible skid mark. we walked to get breakfast, and every 3 feet, a squirt of some kind of urine splashed the pollock-esque pavement. mingled with the jus d'ordure curbside, the stench was breathtaking.

i realize that the zeal for achievement is due to the fact that everything [with the exception of gauzy skirts in soho] is so prohibitively expensive, you gotta bust your ass to pretend to survive, only to be surrounded by asphalt, piss, and garbage. there's no comfort of any kind there -- living space is an oxymoron. apartment dwelling, even in my friend's very cute place in a nice building, squeezes you out like toothpaste into the street where the drive to consume is overwhelming, but you can't afford to buy anything anyway, so you just feel empty.

the anonymity is overwhelming. there are so many people there that, unless you look like a vision of perfection or try damned hard to work that singles scene, finding a mate just seems improbable. who will remember you? someone just like you is going to walk by in sixty seconds.

one thing i didn't experience is rudeness of new yawkers. yes, they push on the subway before letting people off, but no one was loud, obnoxious and in-your-face. the natives seemed to keep to themselves, preserving a false sense of solitude, interacting with one another in the most efficient manner possible, minus all the pleasantries. it may be seen as brusque, but i still like that.

what i liked even more was coming home to my brilliant, gorgeous green yard, getting the car in our garage, parking in a parking lot and getting... chipotle! no, i'm not itching to get to the suburbs at all. chicago is the best possible mix of artificial and natural, urban and pastoral, fast-paced and friendly and i hope to stay as long as it will have me.


Gebeleizis said...

Salut, interesant blogul :-). O sa mai revin.

Jamie said...

Amen, sister. A-F&%$ing-MEN.

laurel said...

That's exactly how I feel about big cities. You summed it up perfectly. I love visiting New York and Chicago, but after about 48 hrs, I get clausterphobic. I need grass...trees...familier faces...simple pleasantries...and a gallon of gas for under $2 bucks!