I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a city rat. The suburbs are lovely to visit, but a pretty cottage with a manicured lawn just doesn’t ring my bell. That said: Friday morning dawned sultry as midsummer, and the brick warehouse where I live grew sizzlingly warm (I live on a downtown block unshaded by foliage). My art project (the epic installation I’m building which addresses the perils of the human condition in a manageable but poignant display of spontaneous mindfulness) wilted in the heat, along with me. So I decided to leave my studio and walk to the bank, where I planned to address the perils of not having enough money in my account next week when rent is due.
As I traversed the streets of my neighborhood, girls in summer frocks and lads in shorts and sneakers ambled past me, carrying paper-wrapped morsels of drippy luncheon snacks bought from multifarious food trucks. The wind crinkled through my hair as a man yelled “Cher” and roared past me on a ramshackle bicycle.
Concrete stretched in all directions, radiating warmth against my flesh. Suddenly I felt overheated, and not in a good way. I yearned for towering trees and sweet, airy bungalows. I craved an emerald summer lawn dotted with yellow dandelions and pink flamingos. Most of all, I wanted a rotating lawn sprinkler for me to run through. I longed for droplets of moisture to spew all over me, drenching my skin and cooling my overwrought physique.
As I rounded a building and prepared to cross 5th street, I saw three people standing on the corner, waiting for the light to change. All of them wore running gear and hopped in place, speaking to each other in loud, athletic voices. I stood a few steps behind them, thinking anyone who’d go running on a day like this must be slightly insane.
Suddenly all three energetically shook their arms and bodies, spewing droplets of perspiration in many directions…including all over me.
As the light changed and the human lawn sprinklers took off running, I observed that their sweat had indeed cooled me down, even though now I felt like a walking biohazard.
Fifteen minutes later, as I stood in the shower in my windowless urban bathroom, I realized that one reason why I like living in the city is because you can find pretty much find anything you want, any time. But you have to be careful what you ask for, or the city (with its quirky imagination and misguided sense of humor) might grant your wishes in fanciful and unforeseen ways.