I apologize to my throngs of avid followers (hi, Mom and Dad!) for the delay in my blog postings. In my hiatus, I’ve left one coastline with headlines for another coastline with headlines — kind of. I know D.C. isn’t right on the coast, but for the sake of keeping my blog’s name consistent, it is.
This particular 2,500-mile life change was the epitome, the pinnacle, the culmination of my past year and a half. In those 18 months, I’ve had the crazy fortune to spend time in 18 major international cities.* That means I’ve seen 18 different microcosms of humanity — sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few months — which is probably good fodder for a book or something if I had some great life lesson to take away from it all. I don’t, really, but here’s the closest thing to what I’ve got.
It’s fascinating how different cities can be. One might think great masses of bodies roaming manmade streets would feel generally the same from place to place, but somehow each one is a unique patchwork of people. Part of that has to do with the city’s culture and language. Part of it is the environment — Montreal in a blizzard is fundamentally different from San Diego in 75-degree sunshine. Part is the amount of tourism: Prague feels like a tourist’s city, at least the part I was in; Los Angeles, in my opinion, is not. Besides the Hollywood sign, there’s not much in the way of iconic tourist haunts. It’s much better to go around with a local who has a car and an understanding of the neighborhoods.
And a huge part of the patchwork is the cities’ histories. After all, history is fundamentally created and documented by people, of which there are many in big cities. In Prague and Budapest, for example, I learned about their Soviet past and how the cities basically reinvented themselves by entering Western society a few decades ago. That’s completely different from, say, Philadelphia — a stalwart of American patriotism. And that’s different than New York or Los Angeles, where hundreds of ethnic groups filtered their own diverse histories into the cultures of the cities.
I feel incredibly lucky to have seen so many slices of the world. I feel incredibly happy to be living in cities now — being in a creative, cultural hub is exactly what I want and need at this point in my life.
One thing I am ready to forgo, however, is changing cities every few months. I will be able to appreciate traveling more once I am not, myself, in a constant state of transition. I want to be part of the patchwork. I want to make roots somewhere.
*Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Austin, Paris, Rome, Prague, Montreal, New York, Barcelona, Budapest, San Diego, San Francisco, Houston, Las Vegas, Frankfurt, Marseille, Philadelphia