I’m not a city person. Or at least, I didn’t use to be. I’d grown up in the suburbs almost my entire life, and I liked it. I liked the space, the trees, the comfy houses.
But I left Baltimore about a week ago, and realized that I have come to love the city. Baltimore was one of the first places I felt free and independent, and I think it will always be special to me because of that. But it’s hard too, living in the city, or at least it was for me. I don’t have any form of transportation, so grocery stores were difficult to get to, not to mention the inconveniences of relying on public transportation. One of the hardest parts for me though, was coming back to the suburbs after being in the city.
There’s a Fiona Apple song that I love that says, “But I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time.” And I feel that way a lot. I’m not extremely comfortable in the suburbs anymore, just like I was never fully comfortable in the city. Just like I’m never fully comfortable in any one culture. On one hand, it’s wonderful because it means that I’ve been exposed to all these disparate cultures or ways of living, but the downside is that I never really feel at home anywhere.
Of course, I might just feel the distinction because I have just recently moved back from the city. I’m sure in time I’ll feel more at home in suburbs again and forget what it felt like to live in the city. But I hope I don’t. I hope I don’t forget how incredibly difficult it is to rely on public transportation, how your day can be made or shot depending on how late or crowded the bus is. I hope I don’t forget the beautiful murals and graffiti. I hope I don’t forget that one conversation at the bus stop waiting for the number 10, full of anger that a prisoner’s sickness and death had been covered up.
And I don’t say this to vilify the suburbs or those who live in it. The suburbs are still home to me, and I’m sure that after a year in Malaysia, I will be incredibly excited to come back. But I just wanted to write this down, so I’ll still remember a little bit about what it felt like to live in the city.