This is the second of a short series of related posts. If you missed it, you might want to read Country Mouse first.
When I was seventeen, my school offered trips to Toronto and to Manhattan. I was lucky to get to go on both trips. If you want to read my tale of New York City, it’s not too far off from what I’m about to write.
I learned not to let my jaw fall open when I gazed up at skyscrapers. I learned not to scream on taxi rides. I learned that the city wasn’t as big or as scary as I’d expected it to be.
Sometimes, I think about what seventeen-year-old Alicia would make of my life now, in Atlanta. I work in one of those skyscrapers. I walk and take transit to commute. I have a no-nonsense street face, and an uncanny sense of when to jaywalk. I ride my bike, zipping in traffic, a backpack of whatever I need strapped to my back. I think 17-me would say that I’d lived up to her dream of urban chic. If not the expensive suits, at least the spirit of the image.
There are things I love about the city.
I love taking transit. I adore the fact that I can go to the farmers market and embrace the feel of an international bazaar. I love that I can find obscure spices and discover fruit I didn’t know existed. I love that I can hear people speaking different languages on the train. More than once, I’ve given a lost tourist directions. I’m in someone’s French facebook page, and another German scrapbook because they want to take pictures with the nice American girl who helped them.
I love the contrasts of the riotous life and blooming of spring against the steel and cement backdrop.
I like how convenient things are, that I don’t have to drive forever to get to a gas station. That things are open later, that there are art museums and playhouses and symphonies and ballets. That there are pottery studios and dance classes and open mic nights and poetry groups. That people meet up in coffee shops to write together.
In the book, the city mouse was confused and dismayed by the backwardness of country life, but he adjusted, eventually, to the slower pace and simplicity. The country mouse, likewise was confused and dismayed by the hustle and bustle, the noise and the crowds of the city. He, too, adjusted.
I have learned that I love both. I love the hustle the bustle, the crowds, the culture. I love the noise of the tree frogs and crickets at night and the kind of quiet that lets you hear yourself think.
What I’ve learned, is that I have to strike a balance between the two.
(Be sure to check back tomorrow for the next post: “Not a Mouse”)