The music bobs and scratches, beat back and forth by a steady base and electronic rhythm. Words tumble out undeciphered, melding to the bobbing head of rock and sway.
I close the window. It lingers. There goes my peaceful morning alone. My eyes roll indefinitely, and I turn my own music up. The cooing vocals and twanging guitar of soft folk is a weak match for the harsh rap beats.
It ends as abruptly as it began. The remaining buzz of cars and humming busses now sounds quiet. An exhale of surrender leaves me, knowing this is the life I’ve chosen. I have my reasons.
I remember days in Chicago where the stillness of a snow-covered street seemed so pure, as if nature had pushed the reset button on our concrete cacophony. Then the plow would emerge, reclaiming it’s territory with the roar of a stubborn child.
City living is itself a rap of multiple forces battling it out. It takes turns with the jazz curves of a syncopated free-form experiment and the rock of revolution. Each one counterpoints the other, the diverse sounds unifying into a symphony of life.
Each change alerts you to the constant changes interrupting our own melodies. The homeless man inserts a saxophone of hardship. Children erupt like tambourines, finding their way to school after districts have been rearranged. An old woman presses piano keys of wise stories. The protestors marching kick the drum beat back up.
It is almost impossible to live in a city and be blind to these competing forces. The city’s life insists on being heard, and it opens eyes to every challenge and trial and simple joy of the millions.
Escape is still necessary, and Seattle has exceeded my expectations with it’s ability to engage with the up beats of city life while maintaining the down strums of nature’s alternative. The beauty is in the balance.
One day I may retreat to the countryside or suburban sprawl where mellow rhythms are the serene norm, but the city will live on inside me and maintain a portion of my heart’s territory. Once you have lived in a city—taking the bus regularly, conversing among the skyscrapers, and breathing in the bustle—it will always feel like home. You are confident in the skin of experience, knowing you can navigate a complex grid and roam freely without a vehicle. The rhythm is a familiar jumble, where your unique beat contributes to a burgeoning sense of alert movement.
Living in a city means that sometimes your neighbors keep you awake, but at least you are awake to the lives around you, kept up by the reminder that you are not alone, and your small song is part of a much bigger record of life.
Have you ever lived in a large city?
What are the parts you enjoyed, even among frustrations?