thin-skinned in the city;

{the top of mission hill. isn’t boston enchanting?}

i was nervous the other night. i could make a list a mile long with things that don’t make me nervous (first dates, petting strange dogs, eating alone at restaurants) and do make me nervous (eating shellfish, other people biking without helmets, meeting someone who says they like the band nickelback). and coming back here to the city made me so intensely nervous; nervous i didn’t develop a thick enough skin for it over the past four weeks of nomadic suitcase travel and city hopping and being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

and then it hit me. somewhere between the red and green line trains at 9pm after a 11 hour bus ride. somewhere between a man offering me his seat after noticing the 60+ lbs of luggage i was carrying. somewhere between three hours of swing dancing at m.i.t. and finding a place to store my stuff (and a way to breathe) because of the kindness of a friend. and smiles at trader joe’s and a new container of hummus (i admit, a lot of my optimism is hummus-derived), i realized i didn’t have to somehow become hardened to love the city. i don’t have to scowl or grunt at people or discomforts or minor issues because it might be the “culture” of a city. i can smile at strangers; they might think i am insane, but i’d rather be that than be an ice queen. i’d rather say,“hihowareyou!” hastily and be met with silence, than not try at all.

it’s a myth i hate, this need to be hardened or cut off in order to be able to survive life in the city. it was the definite crux of my first year of living here. once that idea seeded in my brain i definitely began to stop skipping along cobblestones, singing while doing the dishes, and apple cake-baking.

so it’s time to shake that myth off, if you’ll allow me. this is the year of thin-skinned city living, which is to say i’m not going to feel like i have to be hard-hearted to cities. if anything, i’m going to let more of the city into my life.  if anything it means i need to bake more cakes. and crochet more scarves. and be aware of how nicely my favorite heels click-clack on the cobblestones in beacon hill.
because it sure has a nice tune to it.


6 thoughts on “thin-skinned in the city;

  1. Colour me enlightened! I loved this post. It put words to an experience that I’m sure many other city-goers have had, but haven’t attempted to expose or explore it!

    It makes me feel brave and wonderful for all those times I said “Hi!” to strangers or cracked a joke and didn’t get a response. But the times people do respond, which is most of the time, it’s such an uplifting moment. Thinned-skin city living, count me in!

  2. I had a similar moment recently when I realized I’ve become skittish about smiling at strangers. How sad is that! So I’m making the same resolution right along with you.

    Welcome home!

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