In a previous post, I touted how proud I am of the people my city produces, and that definitely still holds true. However, the other day, a friend and I had a discussion about what our city lacks, which, unfortunately, seems to be a place where people like she and I fit in. Where do we go to have fun, to network, to just meet cool people? Where are all of the cultural events, the musicians, the artists, the motivated, ambitious young people? It seems too often that Friday night comes, and people are doing the same thing: either falling into the same old places that we’re accustomed to, or leaving the area to go to a real city that promises a good time.
In my area, there are two main outlets that provide our weekend entertainment: there is the college strip downtown, where every under age teenager goes to mingle with what they presume to be adults, and the dingy clubs where every one else goes to mean mug and hug the wall. These throw you into one of two categories: aging college student who can’t let go of the frat party, or the aging, well, old person who can’t let go of their thigh-high hoochie boots. If you want to be “classy”, your only other choices are over-priced lounges that play top-40 and house music as you watch people do lines of coke, or the local folk in the “Center” who think dressing up means a North Face jacket and Ugg boots. But what about the rest of us, you know, the in-betweens?
Now, let me digress for a moment. When you’re from my city and the surrounding towns, unless you actually leave the city for college or the like, there is really no desire or drive to seek out something new. You have no problem getting dressed and resorting to one of the standbys discussed above, because frankly, that’s all you know. I admit, I kind of fell into that same trap. I mean, I love my little New England state: we have breweries and decent bars where we can listen to cover bands whose members are 40+, rocking out to fairly decent renditions of “Living on the Edge”. If I want to hear my beloved hip-hop music, I could go to the seedy club downtown, where I was almost always guaranteed extra entertainment by the oft-occuring street fight after the club scene let out (which usually was brought on by a bump or accidental shove on the dance-floor). It wasn’t until these past few months, where I spent time in “real” cities hanging out, like Philly, D.C., and NYC, that I realized what I was really missing.
I went to an art show in Philly where one of my boys was showcasing some of his work, and when I walked in, my first thought was, wow, I’m at home. I’m around MY people. I stayed in the city overnight, and probably had one of the best nights, and then days, I’ve ever had. The next day gave me time to walk around the city, admiring and taking pictures of the wonderful architecture with my magical iPhone. It was this day that sparked a wave of creativity in me, something that wasn’t as prominent as it would have been had I been back home.The same thing happened when I went back and forth to NYC a little later. As soon as I hit the city, I’m instantly transformed. It’s so true that you feel like a completely different person in the city…like any and everything is possible. My whole mind-set transformed; the cities had turned me out. And then…I went back home.
Being back home was such a let down. I had not just a party bug in me, but a do-something-fun bug in me. I wanted to find experiences like the art show in Philly in the cool lounge, the clubs in NYC that allowed me to stay up until 10am the next morning without tiring, the feeling of being alive. And I found none. What I did start to find though, were people just like me. People who came to my city from all over the country, to work at the insurance companies or be engineers at our big aerospace company. They always say that the city is ok enough, but never a place they would ever settle down. We’ve had to create our own fun, have our own parties, and as a result, continuously see the same people. And if we want a change, we have to leave to experience a good time. It’s easy for someone not from around here to see all of its faults, but it’s even worse when I harbor the overwhelming urge to just say “screw it” and take my bougie self elsewhere.
As an in-between, I desire a place to dress up, be classy, mingle in a variety of creative crowds. I want my problem to be that I can’t decide whether or not to catch this poetry reading, or this open mic, or this hot party at a classy lounge. There are parts of me that wish the wool hadn’t been removed from my eyes, because now I know what I’m missing. And now that I’ve realized that I’m an in-between, I’m not sure I can ever go back to enjoying the mediocrity that is so prominent in my current surroundings. I’ll either fall victim to the lure of leaving the place I call home, or accept my fate and re-learn how to live in this city as an in-between.
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