In little Fredonia, born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days, chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool, shootin’ some b-ball outside the school…
I seem to have a fetish with living in college towns. The residences of my youth are contained within a 5-mile radius of a state university. Then I went to college, lived in that town for a year, and moved to another. I like the small-town life. People smile and say “hello” in passing on the sidewalks. Local business owners know your name. Errand-running inevitably takes longer because you run into friends and neighbors in the cereal aisle. Community festivals and traditions, however corny or cliche, are beloved events.
Last night I was walking around the streets of Oakland…a different kind of college town than one I have ever resided in, nestled by the Monongahela River and downtown Pittsburgh. I was admiring houses and apartment buildings, the architecture, the charm, the history. The streets of the city seem to produce energy, life, vibrance, excitement. Charming restaurants and shops are around every corner. Street signs and light poles are plastered with opportunities for involvement, cultural experiences and other intriguing events. People walk in a determined fashion, eyes set dead ahead, talking excitedly into their cell-phones or slightly bobbing their head to music. And public transportation (I have a strange love for public transportation systems. I admit it.) In such a crowded and bustling place, one remains isolated, detached, unknown. There is safety in being unknown.
My pondering was paused when we arrived at our final destination for the night – NBA pre-season at the Petersen Events center. Granted, NBA is not my favorite form of basketball, but tickets to this game were much easier to come by than any Pitt game (shameless plug – if you have a connection, hook me up. I’ll bake you cookies.). The reigning champs (the Celtics for those of you who don’t keep tabs on this sort of thing) ended up victorious over Lebron and the Cavs. I was impartial to either team, so either way, the results weren’t going to sway my mood. The boys played some sloppy basketball – Coach Murgatroyd would have been having a fit with some of those passes – but it was an entertaining, down-to-the-last-second, competitive game.
Opportunities like this seem inherent only to the city life. People sojourn to the “big city” for pleasure and excitement, while city dwellers escape to the rural areas for rest, relaxation and a good breath of fresh air. I guess it goes to show that life in either place can be stifling, leaving one desperate for change, a time of relief, and a venture into the unknown and unfamiliar. There are days when I consider my small-town life to be a bit boring and redundant, and I think of how different life in the city would be – exciting, full of opportunities for exploration, a constant adventure and a much shorter drive to some good restaurants. I don’t know which is better – to live in a city or to live in small-town America. I don’t think either is really “better” than the other. They are simply different. And that can be okay.