Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And I've Found that Round Here, In this City

How pleasant life can be if you only put your mind to it!

Hardly any work today, and so I had the entire afternoon to do as I pleased with. Taking Dad to a movie for his birthday tonight - I Love You, Man. Very funny. Mother wouldn't enjoy it. She is elsewhere engaged anyhow - another interview for this one job. This could be crucial to my parents future. They're both unemployed currently. Dad has a grand scheme in the works for a Cincinnati-based film production company. I think it's actually going to fly.

How seriously people take themselves! And how silly, how bizarre we all are! Strutting around as we do like peacocks, proudly displaying our worth!

"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think." (Horace Walpole)

With a kind of ridiculous expanse of time to fill, and the day turning out to be very sunny and generally lovely, I spurned public transportation, which can be a trying affair at the best of times, in favour of a walk up to Clifton (the university area). (This is where I now sit, in front of Starbucks, with iced coffee, pen, and smart red journal, all exceedingly nice things.)

There is a kind of flavour in downtown Cincinnati which I am not sure I can properly express. I recently took a mad, rash, sugar-fueled, one-night road trip to Indianapolis (about two hours from Cincinnati), accompanied by my long-suffering friend, Aaron. And what we found there was so ... unexpected! It was massive! It was clean and new and shiny! And the nightlife! The streets were overflowing with people at 1:00 a.m. on a Monday! All looking clean and new and shiny, going to clubs and pubs and having exciting, city fun times. I felt like a farm-raised child out past her bedtime. And I'm from L.A.

There was something odd, though, that I couldn't put my finger on, as though I'd stumbled into a Twilight Zone town. Aaron realised before I did - I being wide-eyedly distracted by the flashing lights and tall buildings (and there was, like, no gum on the sidewalk!).

It was too clean. Too new. Too shiny. It had no character. I mean, I knew there was something seriously wrong when I noticed there was no gum on the sidewalk. What kind of a city doesn't have gum on the sidewalk? Perhaps they do not chew gum there; it is not allowed. Perhaps the inhabitants of Indianapolis are not real, but spring into existence for visitors. Or they may be droids.

Cincinnati has many flaws, but it is beautiful. It has history and character. Hell, every street corner is loitered with characters! (That was a very bad joke). Downtown Cincinnati (for the most part) is not clean. It is not new. And it is certainly not shiny (except for the colourful shards of broken bottles). But you wanna know something crazy? I love it.

There are a lot of trees in Cincinnati. There are brick buildings painted yellow and green and purple. There are these gorgeous old churches all over the place. There's one on Race St. with this crazy wooden bell tower that looks like it's about to collapse. And there are paintings, I mean real works of art, on buildings, sometimes framed. "Keep Cincinnati Beautiful!" they say. And if you walk north from downtown, you climb uphill to Clifton, so you can see the sprawling city below, all misshapen, crooked like a set of broken teeth.

It looks prettiest in winter, of course, covered in snow. Years ago, in high school, I sat on the ledge of an open window on the fifth story - January, maybe. Freezing cold. Big snowstorm just settled. Oh, then it could have been Hogsmeade, or Dicken's London. I ditched my afternoon classes that day. I blame my incurably romantic disposition.

But the light and shadows are beautiful in summer. Very green. Slanting shade checkering the street. A slight tang in the air of kicked up dirt. Gigantic leafy things have burst through the cracks in the sidewalk. Nobody bothers to pull them up. The fountain in Fountain Square is shooting water into the air and it does not just fall, but creates a palpable mist around it. People pause next to it to stand in the spray, and sometimes they forget themselves for a moment and close their eyes. These moments I capture - moments of such decent, human weakness. These glimpses are so secret. They give their soul a walk once around the fountain, and then lock it up again, lest they should be found out.

How can I talk? My soul is hidden under my pillow. I only take it out at night, when I can be absolutely sure no one is looking. I do not even have the goodness to forget myself by the fountain in the square. And here am I, taking myself so very seriously! Ha ha! We never find hypocrisy in ourselves. That is for others to be guilty of.


Meg said...

Mmmmm...Exactly. This is beautifully said friend. :)