Underthecurrent


big city life
March 4, 2011, 11:12 am
Filed under: runaway, when I grow up

Tonight there’s a band playing at the pub and rugby on tv, which we will watch at another pub because our channel selection is limited. I just saw a guy I know who manages skate teams in town, hauling another bunch of young’uns and the travel ramp. Tonight might be fun.

In a strange way, living here partially satisfies a small town pastoralist urge that has been around since I can remember, a desire to spend some time living in a legitimate small town. It is the opposite of the urban life carved out during my early twenties, there are no wine bars or nightclubs, no chain stores and no exotic restaurants. Civil society is largely of the rotarian and mountain bike club variety, mostly populated by retirees and young family people in their thirties. All the fit young men in town are part of the ocean rescue team and see each other at the surf break when the ocean starts to move in rhythm. We are on a first name basis with the man who runs the hardware store, he has helped us fix our French Press and pick out fishing bait; the woman at the small convenience store announces all relevant local news like a low tech news channel by writing on a chalk board everyone can see as they drive by. Many of my friends from the busier town up the road say they would gladly live here if they could make a living.

At times, life here can be boring and lonely. Most of my likeminded friends live at least an hour away. The ribald sense of humor shared by most of the people I have kept in my life longterm is not something to bring out on a first date. You cannot nip out for an hour of people watching and a coffee, with a laptop in tow, and the only music that comes through town is for a brief period when the place blows up into a holiday mecca. As a single person, living in this town off season could entail a lot of hard drinking. Luckily, life partner and I* keep each other more or less entertained.

Which is preferrable? I miss some of the conveniences and pleasures of big city life, but after so many years had begun to take them for granted, and the nightlife wasn’t compatible with arriving competent at work the next morning. Sometimes now, I watch movies showing big North American cities and get nostalgic for coffee shops, strangers, new restaurants and public transit. The possibility of novelty.

In the past, my college city was the big romance of my early twenties. It is possible I miss it the same vague way it’s easy to miss the most hot and cold relationships of my mid-twenties, wherein I do not miss the people involved but instead miss the blinding passion of the rollercoaster. Of course, I would never give up what I have found now for television-worthy drama again; I know how the story ends with the latter and eventually everyone gets tired of making out in taxi cabs and slamming front doors, not least the impartial viewer. Looking back on the last year in my college city, after a one year hiatus somewhere else, the romance was dead. Every coffee shop felt the same, every block had been walked and every restaurant had been dined at, and when we went out to cruise the pubs and clubs where I had been a regular it was with shared memories instead of anticipation. Even the art galleries and libraries failed to satiate completely anymore. I now know how that story ends, too.

And for the conclusion? What’s next? As people around here often say: watch this space.

*what the relevant paperwork deems us in the event I am not banished from the country soon, we have discussed announcing this via the new facebook statuses, but probably won’t.

-> Lit Ref: Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That“.
-> Listening: Big City Life – Mattafix

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