Wednesday, April 17, 2013

on city love.

one of my favorite photos of nyc, taken by brian.
when tragedies, such as the one in boston, occur, we often hear people talk about their city - how much they love their city, how they'll defend it, how hurt they are that someone attacked their city. their city. this love we have for our cities, our hometowns, the places we live. where does it come from?
when i look around at the price of new york real estate, it never ceases to amaze me. the $40M apartment on the upper east side. the $70M townhouse on the upper west side. how on earth could a home cost so much? where does it get it's worth? at the end of the day, it's a thing, an object, a possession. if we all left new york tomorrow, if we all lost interest in the special kind of rat race new york city is - those prices would be no more. those possessions would be worthless.
because it is not the buildings, or the streets, or the subways that make a city - it is the people.
the cities i have lived in were put on the map by people large and small as seen through the lens of history. j.p. morgan made the finance industry in this town and every cabbie today makes it one of the more convenient places to live. johnny cash helped fuel one of the biggest booms in the country music industry when he was popular and jaunita the baker at dulce desserts now bakes the best cakes nashville has ever seen. the founders of this country took the first few humble steps that make up our country's birth in philadelphia, and today a man named stephen starr creates some amazingly popular restaurants that make the city a fun and delicious to place to live. and while all of these people made, and continue to make these cities meaningful, these cities powerful, there are millions more that make up the patchwork of these cities. i am one of them, my friends are, too. and it is with these seemingly ordinary people leading ordinary lives that we make up some of the greatest moments of our lives, those moments that make a city our own.
it's brian's proposal in gramercy park that makes new york ours, forever. or the bar my friends and i partied in after we graduated from college, intertwining nostalgic moments of our youth with philadelphia, forever. or the road i was running down in nashville when i spotted tina cheering for me in mile 9 of my half marathon, when i felt about ready to quit and her support kept me going - that road that reminds me of one of my greatest accomplishments whenever i drive down it. those moments made us fall in love with our cities, but they would be nothing without the people who made them.
so when tragedies like the one in boston occur, and it seems liked we just heard about newton, or the shooting in aurora, or the shooting in the oregon mall - i sometimes feel as if i can't take it anymore. when i get sick and tired of this world and it's violence and i want to go live on a patch of dirt in the middle of nowhere that can't be found a map - those who shout about their love for their city remind me: it's about the people. that our cities would be nothing without the amazing people who populate them. thousands, millions of people, who don't set off bombs, who don't shoot innocent people, who don't fly planes into buildings. people who love each other, who run into disaster zones to care for the hurt, who lend a helping hand to someone they don't know. ordinary people leading ordinary lives, creating extraordinary cities. cities, as has been proven to us over the past few days, like boston.
***
for a heartbreaking, honest, beautiful and just perfectly written account of what it was like to be a runner that day, read this. for a beautiful tribute to boston from those who live there, read this and this. lastly - a student who graduated one year after me was severely hurt, along with his parents, from the second bomb: please consider donating here if you can.

13 comments:

  1. Couldn't have said it better myself. Beautifully written. And one the most deeply affecting blog posts I've read these past couple of days.

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  2. I was so overwhelmed by the news yesterday that I had to turn the tv off – and then felt bad for being ignorant to what was happening all day. I felt a little bit silly about it this morning so I turned the tv back on and was so overwhelmed (but in a good way) by the amount of support people were showing and the complete show of solidarity. You are so right, it is the people that make the city and even after everything that has happened, I am more determined than ever to visit Boston.

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    1. I love this juxtaposition if emotions you had - I think we all have over the past few days. I hope you make it to Boston, it is one of the great american cities that can't be missed.

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  3. This is so beautiful, C. I have shivers up my arms. I love all your favorite moments in each one of your cities-- perfect. Boston is really the only city I've ever lived in (my college was in an incredible small town), so I think that's why my love for it is so strong. I could easily see myself living here for the rest of my life, and that makes me happy.

    Beautiful, thoughtful words, as always. Thank you for them.

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    1. thank you Anna - and for sharing your love for Boston with us. through your eyes it's easy to see why you love it so much.

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  4. Loved this. Love, love, loved it. It's so true - the PEOPLE are what we make our connections with, and that's why we love our cities. This is one of your best, Colleen!

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  5. I was so disgusted on Monday with the fact that it seems like we just can't have nice things, meaningful events, joyous occasions anymore in this world because some horrible person is always going to ruin it. It's not the most hopeful way to think about humanity. Thank you for reminding me that the things that make our cities great is the people who AREN'T setting off bombs, shooting children at school, or spreading hate with their words and actions. I love this city because of them. Beautifully written, Colleen!

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    1. I know exactly how you feel - it just feels so incomprehensible sometimes (and I can't imagine being directly effected by some of these events). but the millions more who do good are a way to refocus - that's the group I want to be a part of and I want to sped my energy on.

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  6. I'm just reading this and now I'm in tears. It's taking me some time to start reading what people have written about Monday. But this. This is perfect. Thank you, Colleen. For being such a good friend. Even though we haven't met, you're still my friend <3

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    1. this comment went beyond making my day. I am most definitely your friend - and one who is incredibly proud of you.

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  7. Colleen this post is so beautiful. I read it last week and have thought of it several times since, while thinking about and wrestling through what happened last week. I love the words and thoughts and feelings you share in this space--they are beautiful and so many times they really challenge me to think and feel in different ways. So thank you for that.

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