Monday, February 6, 2012

City, Clandestine


The tribulations, the gruesomeness, the mundane tests of survival: Catching the 9.02 train, riding the bus along with staring strangers, coffees to-go, familiar pavements and unwelcome rain. Is a city still lovable despite such odds? You sit in the confinements of your room with your unripened ability to acknowledge the eccentricities, the capacities, the idiosyncrasies of the heart and you wonder if; like Edith Wharton who found love in Paris, you have to travel to a new city to find love? Or for that matter, is every one of us destined to find love in a pre-allotted city? Like Carrie, who falls in love in New York, with New York. Will you ever find it in your heart to fall in love with a city if you don’t your find great love in it?

A city is made of moments. Moments of love, moments of regret. Everything else is a monument. You see brawls, you see embraces. You miss trains, you fear shadows, you live in a box, and you eat out of a box. You muse over the intertwining trajectories of urban lives. And when you are unmercifully awake at night you muse over the plainness of the day that was. You want to go see Paris and grieve for Oscar Wilde at the Père Lachaise. You want to witness Rossini’s opera at the Colosseum from the cheap seats and anonymously fall in love with the principle tenor. Or seek shelter from the rain with a wonderfully ordinary stranger inside a red telephone booth in London. Or you always have your own city.

Where you can become that stealthy observer who watches people fall in love, in the museum gazing at the same reproduction of a classic and strike a conversation of personal relevance. Or at the book store, among perfectly musty smelling used books, reaching for the same copy of a morbidly hopeful or salubriously cynical novel. You are torn between the easiness of cynicism and the foolishness of hope. You want to take the path of least resistance. It is so easy, so comforting even, to disinvest from hope. So easy to cocoon inside hopelessness during the miss-you nights. But when the day takes form on a pale September morning, and it is just sufficiently sunny, and appropriately murky outside, hope slaps you in the face and makes you want to shun that solace of cynicism. And you hurl yourself into possibilities. And begin another dangerous affair (a la Wilde) with the city, despite all its unfairness and exasperation.