I am a "country mouse".
So, here's a list of conclusions from this experiment:
- Cities Stink - No literally, they smell like shit. Literally. You've got hundreds of thousands of people stacked on top of each other, surrounded by concrete, which takes on the smell of whatever is dumped on top of it. So, when I walk around, I smell oil, gasoline, piss, shit, garbage, and, if it's around "mealtime" or restaurants, I smell food in addition. It only starts to smell like landscaping and cut grass once you get out into the suburbs or into a massive park (if you're lucky enough to have one nearby). But that's not the city, that's the suburbs.
- Cities Are Covered in Garbage - This is a two way street. Again, population density makes for a LOT of trash. The rule is, if it's usable trash, put it out on the curb or by the dumpsters to let your neighbors or homeless have dibs. The trash in big cities is incredible! I have found tons of beautiful clothes, expensive appliances, leather shoes, unsoiled furniture, food (no kidding, and I didn't even have to dive for it), and plenty of other things. I have a new mantra, "The Hood Provides". If you wait long enough, it will show up on a curb somewhere, waiting for you to come pick it up. But I said this is a two way street. For all it's throw-away abundance, there is a lot of stinky, putrid garbage around. Bags of dog shit, ton upon ton of plastic, rotting food and who knows what, decomposing paper and clothing, yard waste... You name it, it's getting dumped in West Oakland, up the street from my house.
- Cities Are Full of Crazies - The pace here sets people up for a lot stress. Rent is high, work is fast and furious, everything is expensive, and, again, people are stacked on top of each other. Which leads to overcrowding, and more stress. There are tons of goods and services available to destress, for those with enough expendable income. Otherwise you're probably medicating your stress with food and drugs. And this is just the sane people. Let's not forget the growing homeless population, and the huge percentage of it that is comprised of addicts and the mentally ill. These are the people that the world tries to shove under the rug. I really feel for these people. There is probably nothing more terrifying than being homeless and in the middle of a panic attack and a psychotic episode while going through alcohol withdrawal. Think about it for a minute...
- Cities Have EVERYTHING - Anything you want, anything you want to do, anything you want to see, anything you want to be, any persona you want to have, it's all here! And then there's everything you never wanted ever and hate with every fiber of your being. That's here too. And so are the people that like it.
- Everything Changes Constantly - This I already knew, but it becomes even more pronounced in centers of culture and technology. And this, consequently, is the only conclusion that has done anything for my growth. It has caused me to be a little Buddhist about clinging to security. It has also showed me that no matter how drastically things in my life change, I am going to be okay. I can overcome just about anything.
- Money Rules In Cities - If you have it, you're a lot happier than if you don't. The list of reasons could fill volumes so I'll just stop now.
- I Need Nature To Stay Sane - The only way to gain a reprieve from the stress of urban living is to LEAVE. In nature, the pace is slower. Change happens slower. There is less to do. There are less people, less trash, and very few horrible smells. You can see what is happening miles away from you instead of only a few hundred feet away. You can see the sky. You feel small and alone in the best way possible. You can close your eyes and be surrounded by nothing but the sound of the wind.
So that's what I've learned so far.
Now, an update: I haven't made an entry here in a very, very long time. I've been living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I came here to be a graphic designer, and ended up developing chronic hand problems and working retail. I made it work, though. Now I'm back in school looking to get a degree in dietetics, a field that I've always been passionate about. I hope to leave the cesspool of urbanity behind in a year and a half or so. And it's about time. I'm pretty much over it. There is no way I could ever live in a place as populated as this one longterm. It was a relief to live in such a liberal and accepting place in the beginning, but the trade off isn't worth it to me. I crave solitude and a much slower pace.
So, right now, I'm back in school, living in Berkeley, engaged to the love of my life, and looking forward to the future! It's a good place to be.
So, I am totally a country mouse. City mice are totally weird. I hope that I can move back to a less populated area either during my next bout of school, or shortly after. We are considering the Southwest again because of the climate. I'd like to live close to my Mom too, and if we end up in Arizona again, I'll have peeps to reconnect with!
We have lofty dreams of an airstream, and then an earthship. Whatever we do, it's going to be epic. I'm going to try to start posting here again, but it will most likely be sporadic at best. So, stay tuned if you dare.