November 16th, 2013, 1pm

It could be Saturday and I am walking home and I have just enjoyed and then expended the satisfaction of completing some mundane task such as returning a Zip Car and I will start to daydream about living in a large city.

I think about living in New York and walking, in the Fall, around the shin-high metal fences, between the brownstones, navigating the garbage on the sidewalks in The Village.

I think about Prague and the mild but always present acrid smell of burning peet which gets much stronger when the days get short.

I think about Tokyo and the requirement of contact. Brushing the coat back of every person along the bar just slightly as I shuffle between them and the wall on my way to that lonely stool at the very end.

What would it feel like to live in those huge cities? Would I feel different. Would the city change me? “It would be filled with strangers for one”, I think to myself, “and that would be unsettling.” Because of the proximity you can’t help but get some of their lives on you. Hundreds of lives everyday and I never know where they go after they were just in front of me in line.

And then of course I realize that I am in a city and I do live here. I am coated in the dust of hundreds of people everyday. Each night there are about a dozen people sleeping within 20 feet of me but who I don’t know and mostly have never seen.

So it is wonderous that it is possible to forget so often that I am in a city. Why is that? “It’s really just a small town”, we tell each other.

I spend all of my time zoomed in. I am sure that this is nothing unique to San Francisco or probably anywhere. If we didn’t develop a healthy myopia we would all go insane.

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John McAlester

Adventure dad, writer, Content Strategist @canirank

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