When they get stressed and everything around them becomes too mch, some people retreat to the country. To a small village where the grocer knows your name, where people greet each other on the street instead of hasting by without a look. To a place they can calm down at, be themselves, and just sit in the garden, eating home-made slow food, watching the busy bees.
I don’t. When I want out, I retreat to the city. To the urban jungle, where you’re just one tiny face in the crowd, where it’s highly unlikely that you’ll meet anyone you know on the main streets and people just look through you. A place of anonymity, where I can be whoever I want to be, and just sit by the stairs the skater folk use as a parcours, eating takeaway goma wakame and onigiri, watching the busy bankers.
I sleep on the sofa, in striped sheets, with the lights of the skyline blinking at me all night, but I sleep incredibly well, curled up in the velvety darkness of the fur of the big, giant animal that is this city.
I go shopping for groceries in the gourmet supermarket, looking for new things to try, pretty packaging designs, interesting ingredients.
I move amongst kings and beggars, no, wait, well-dressed, well-mannered ladies in blazers and loafers and hats on her perfectly done hair, and dashing young men in sleek suits with in-ears and John Lennon sunglasses and perfectly combed-back hair that still looks silky, and ragged punks that shout at people who won’t drop them a coin with the dogs I envy them for, and the big, loud families that make Primark shopping an event because they probably came here from the suburbs and want their parking money’s worth.
I bring home wheat braid bread with sunflower seeds, and hokkaido pumpkin spread, and heart-shaped tea bags and mushrooms that I eat with little more than pasta and salt and pepper and olive oil.
I take long showers without the ever-present fear that I’ll run out of hot water and I watch children’s TV all day while sewing, and I don’t even feel bad about it.
It’s not that I don’t love the country, but when I’m there – in the Shire, at my mother’s house – everybody wants something, and going to a museum is an actual effort because it’s not right around the corner, just waiting for me to visit it. I always have to-do lists there, and sometimes the serenity and peace and quiet drives me insane (especially the peace and quiet of the lawn mowers every damn day. Couldn’t they just borrow a small flock of sheep once a month or so?).
The city is different, and I like both.