I’m sitting by the Charles River in central Boston, on a long wooden bench with creaky planks. People at the Boston Tea Party museum are throwing fake boxes of tea in the river and fishing them out with ropes. Something about this amuses me, but everyone involved looks like they’ve never had more fun in their entire life.
Something about the city, apart from the driving and the parking scramble (which took 20 minutes and consisted of me getting honked at and circling the same 4 blocks), is so inspiring. A guy with a skateboard between his knees on the bench next to me is sketching and bobbing his head to whatever melody is playing through his white earbuds. And I’m writing on a note in my phone because I left my journal in the hotel. He puts his black, duct taped sketchbook into his backpack and pulls out loose tobacco in a pouch. With the precision of a builder he constructs his own perfect cigarette, rolling it between his fingers and licking the thin white paper into submission.
Shouldering the worn brown backpack and diving into a bag of haribo gummy bears he throws down the skateboard and clatters away over the loose bricks of the sidewalk. I wonder how often he comes here. I wonder what he does for a job or if his family lives nearby. I wonder if he looked at me on the bench next to him and wondered if I were playing Pokemon Go.
What is it that draws young people to cities? What makes us want to pack up and leave what we know to go to a place where people live, literally, on top of one another and the streets are covered in questionable liquid? What draws our wondering souls to the sound of cars honking and brakes screeching in slow traffic? What pulls us towards the wind whipping off buildings and busy people pushing through packs of tourists?
I’ve always felt this need to be near the city. Maybe it’s the fear of missing out, but missing out on what I don’t know. It’s something the city has that it doesn’t want to divulge just yet. I wonder what it would be like to live here; to Eat and sleep and walk and be inspired by the city – By the tourists and by the locals fighting for the extremely valuable real estate of sidewalk space. I wonder what it would be like to know the weaving enmeshment of side streets as fondly as a birthmark on your body.
It could be the energy or the mystery or the slight feel of danger. Machines work at all hours and in the hot sun the smell of asphalt focuses you in your mission to get to the nearest, locally owned, hole in the wall cafe and gulp down cold brew coffees with almond milk.
I’m not sure what it is, but I know I’m 100 per cent sold on that mid summer inner city life.