This is a great city, folks. It’s beautiful, the food is fantastic, the architecture is lovely, the surrounding nature is out of this world. I still love DC more but that’s probably because I was there with N (and with Klara inside me), and that colors my perception.
On the negative side, the prices are ridiculous, the homelessness is painful to watch and a lot worse than in St Louis. It’s shocking to see people defecating in the street in the middle of a crowd of overdressed tourists. It can’t be that hard to provide free toilet booths in such a rich city.
I used to miss living in a city to the point it hurt. The wealth of sensory experiences, the crowds, the anonymity, the cafes, the culinary adventurousness, the people watching, the shopping, the used book stores, the intellectual rewards of a fast-paced environment – I would feel like being deprived of it all was like living death. Every time left a city to go back to one of the small college towns where I lived, I’d weep and feel like I was on a way to my emotional and intellectual funeral.
I haven’t felt like that for many years, though. A city is great but my sleepy little Midwestern suburb is great, too. I can inhabit both worlds and not feel like I’m losing the most important parts of who I am when I’m leaving a big city. This is a big part of my personal growth. Which, obviously, doesn’t mean that people who haven’t moved in this direction aren’t achieving personal growth. Everybody grows in their own direction, so I’d never condemn folks who suffer in sleepy rural towns or in big cities. Growth is whatever helps one to stay intellectually vibrant. And if that vibrancy is predicated on thriving in a specific type of place, that’s great.