One of my favorite internet writers, Kate from Eat the Damn Cake, wrote a post last week called “What if everyone grows up and leaves me in this city?” Well damn, if that doesn’t capture pretty much exactly what I fear, I don’t know what does. This is my favorite part of Kate’s essay:
“Sometimes I realize that one day everyone will leave this city. It will drain like a bathtub and the empty, dirty streets will leave a streak. Everyone will go find a house somewhere, with a yard. Because kids need space, and there’s no space in the city. Because the air is cleaner out there. Because of the schools. Because of the money. Because the city wears you down. Because it just makes sense. Even my twenty-something single friends talk about leaving. After they get far enough in their careers and when they want to settle down and have a real, serious life. They look forward to not having to deal with the subway anymore.”
Not my foot...
I have had a realization that I’m quite sure most of you have already figured out: You can’t make your friends want what you want. It’s rough, right?
Just because my fantasy future-land involves walks with strollers along the lakeshore path, adjacent homes in Andersonville, and children who speak with long, flat Midwestern As, doesn’t mean my friends want the same thing. As they shouldn’t, because, obviously, we are each entitled to our own fantasy future-lands. Theirs may include suburban cul-de-sacs, or warmer climes, or different cities.
I find a specific vibrancy in cities in general, and this one in particular, that I doubt I will ever want to leave. There are trade-offs to be made, of course, in choosing urban living. Where I see value, other people see hassle. What I might find invigorating, others might find exhausting. What they find delightful, or comforting, I might find stifling.
I wish my friends all saw the same value in planning future-land here with me, but they don’t, and I can’t expect them to. That’s fine, and fair, because they are brilliant and wise and will pick and choose the future-lands right for them, but it doesn’t make it easy. Is this what growing up is like?
Related Post: Happy Anniversary to me and Chicago.
Related Post: I guested at SGST about geographic intimacy and things TV gets wrong about Chicago.