You move to the city and it’s so exciting. You meet such interesting
people. There are bars, clubs, the Manyunk bike races, regattas and
Boathouse Row. There’s the skyline at night, concerts and Fairmount
Park. The roaring subway, the rattling El. The cuisine from a thousand
lands, the cacophony of a million happy souls crammed into a few
downtown blocks on New Year’s Day.
Fine for a few years. Then you’re not 24 anymore. You’re pushing 30 and, without warning, you sour on city life.
Maybe it’s your second close call with a thug while you waited on a
subway platform on your way home from work. Maybe it’s the third time
your car is broken into. Maybe it’s growing weary of your roommate’s
girlfriend arriving on Friday and staying until Sunday.
You grow weary of roommates and rent checks and, really, no privacy.
That gritty streetscape no longer excites. It’s becomes as gray and
worn as the stinking winos slumped in doorways on South Street.
The bars are overpriced; the exotic cuisine gives you heartburn. You
discover you can no longer stay out all night at the clubs midweek and
expect to give an honest day’s work on a few hours sleep. New music
sounds like cats on crack.
Then, one day, you are in the suburbs. Perhaps at your parents’
house, or a friend who’s settled down and doing well. It’s summer
maybe. The steaks on the grill smell heavenly. The pool water is warm
and crystal. The neighbors are nice. There are gardens and the smell of
fresh cut grass and shade trees and reliable central air conditioning.
This kind of thing is just casting judgments where no judgment needs to be made. If you want a grill and a pool then go
get a grill and a pool already, and don’t make it about turning 29 and seeing black people on the train. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a pool. I look longingly at my neighbors’ on my walk to work every day in the summer. And just last week I was bugging Mr. A about buying a little grill so we could do some barbecued chikkinz and corn. Does that earn me any grown-up points with assholes like this?
Stuff like this makes me crazy not because I feel like everyone should be dodging bullets in an urban hellhole (which daily activity tm Atrios, where I found this stupidity) but because it’s a particular psychological tic that will fuck you in the ass, emotionally speaking, when you least expect it: The casting of choices you make as things beyond your control. You wanted to stay in love with the city, but you turned 29! What could you do? The Indian food gave you heartburn! Somebody broke into your car! It’s not your fault, you just grew up! It was a natural process that everyone goes through!
If you don’t admit that you want what you want because you want it, and that’s enough for you and me and anybody, you will wake up in 20 years confused and pissed at everyone and everything, and that is a party I want no invitation to.