Campus Life, Lifestyle

A love letter to all cities

To all the cities in the world:

You make me feel so inexplicably alive.

I bathe in your love, I laugh in your comfort and I live in your aura. Everything about you entices me to let go and cherish the low thrum of life you exude every hour of every day. Even during the darkest nights, I feel connected to you, like every nerve in my body is a live wire, and I’m in tune with you, with the people and with the world.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am a huge city girl. 

I guess it’s to be expected. I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada — a city surrounded not only by towering skyscrapers, but also by a healthy blend of mountains and forests. And while I do tend to enjoy nature walks every so often, I find that nothing can quite compare to the feeling I get when I’m standing in the middle of a crowded street as the stars glimmer in the sky.

Okay, that’s a lie. Stars are non-existent when you live in a city, but you get the idea. 

When you’re in the city, everything around you is stunningly surreal. I love walking along the harbor at night or shopping during the day, but my absolute favorite thing is when I just stand on my balcony — in the dark — and stare. 

I could stand there for hours just admiring the view. There are dozens of buildings enveloping the space before me. I hear the muffled chatter of pedestrians below and the faint honking of cars beside me. But then I lift my head and I’m greeted — not only with this overwhelming sensation — but with this unbelievable scenery.

Thousands of lights dot the building before me. Each light tells the story of a different person, their life just as beautiful and complex as our own. I see their homes, and I see the present through their eyes. For just a moment, I’m able to catch a glimpse of their story. For a second, our timelines weave together and spark with life. It’s brief, and it’s fleeting, but I feel so at ease when it happens.

The Boston skyline at night. Michelle writes about the qualities of cities that make her feel alive and less alone — especially when she just gazes out from her balcony. COURTESY OF EMMANUEL HUYBRECHTS VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

It makes me feel a little less alone. If I’m overwhelmed or stressed, just knowing that someone is living alongside me and navigating through this uncertain future just like me is so unbelievably relaxing. We’re all here together and getting through each day. And even if we don’t know one another, we’re still puzzle pieces in each other’s grand pictures. Distant, maybe, but present nonetheless. 

When I’m getting ready for bed, I still feel so in tune with the city. It’s like we all share one heartbeat, one rhythm. And I always fall asleep, with that warmth and bliss that I know I would never find anywhere else.

Here’s the thing: I’ve tried to be that cool, rural girl. I spent a few nights at a friend’s place in Rhode Island, and she lived in the middle of nowhere. That’s not a joke, by the way — it’s literally nothing but blank space. 

Safe to say, I hated it. Where the city always made me feel like I was living in harmony with the rest of the world, the rural area made me feel as if I could look out the window and see an axe murderer running at me because it was so empty. I really tried to enjoy it — but I’m biased, and I’ve found that I just can’t live anywhere else.

The city has everything I’ve ever needed. When I want to take time for myself and explore, I’m just a drive away from a park or the beach. And if I’m feeling a little more extroverted, I just have to put on my shoes and go to one of the bustling cafes near my apartment. 

There’s truly nothing quite like it. And I cannot emphasize just how deeply I’ve fallen in love with everything it has to offer.  

A slice of life here, a glimmer of calm there and a sprinkle of spirit everywhere. It’s all wrapped up in a dynamic and diverse gift, and I couldn’t be more grateful to be in the center of it all.

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