Tupac and Biggie might have taken it a little far with their coast-y love but I get it. It’s important to represent your turf. It’s not easy living in a city. Living in a huge metropolis is not as simple and glamorous as Gossip Girl and Friends make it seem-it’s expensive, it’s cramped, it’s dirty and oftentimes, as one of thousands of people, you feel anonymous and unimportant. Still there’s a reason cities are so appealing and people from Sinatra to Kendrick sing their praises. People work hard to get the chance to move to big places like LA, New York, Paris, London, etc. (and they work even harder to stay). So when you do live in a dreamy city and you can still love it despite all the crap that comes with it, you can’t help but develop a certain sense of pride for your city.
I am so proud to live in New York. I am all about that concrete jungle where dreams are made of (or wet dream tomatoes, gotta work on that enunciation Alicia). I would wear those gaudy “I ❤ New York” t-shirts 24/7 if they didn’t make me look like a lame tourist. In short, New York is BAE (I hate myself for using that phrase, but it’s true). Now that I am living in Paris, and especially post-November 13th attacks, I am also extremely proud to live in this city. I have to hold back from doing the t-shirt equivalent and constantly wear a beret. So when my mom came to visit me in Paris this past week, I was stoked to show her just how cool Paris is.
Of course while I planned a brilliant let-me-get-you-to-fall-in-love-with-Paris itinerary I kind of forgot that my mom isn’t a huge city fanatic like I am. In fact, she’s not a city person at all. She doesn’t like museums, she doesn’t care for architecture, she has no interest in history, she is anti-walking fast, and she most definitely is not down with rats (the nerve!). I planned to cram the 6 days my mom would be here with everything pretty and Parisian and she was having none of it. Notre Dame was meh. The top of the Eiffel Tower was too high for her. And the Louvre, oh the Louvre. She didn’t even want to take a picture with the damn pyramid like a normal tourist. She was more interested by the fact that straight men kiss each other on the cheek here than any of the world-famous pieces at the Louvre. I was frankly offended.
First of all I couldn’t believe how little interest my mom showed in any of the activities and places that are so quintessentially Parisian. As someone who loves to travel and see new cultures it baffled me that she didn’t really care to experience anything that makes Paris and its people unique,The world renowned museums that Paris is home to and the history that is contained in its walls meant absolutely nothing to her. The only thing that captivated her attention was shopping, which we did endlessly. What bothered me the most is how little she valued being in Paris. To a lot of people coming to Paris is a dream and to my mom it seemed more like something she just decided to do because, why not?
This isn’t the first time my mom dissed my city, she showed the same level of disinterest (and disgust) when she went to New York. All she did was complain the entire time she was there. Ay Sammy, why do you like to live in such a small room? Sammy it smells like urine everywhere. Sammy I don’t know why you like to ride the subway-it’s so dirty. Sammy why are you walking so fast? You would think I was living in the middle of a dump, not a large cosmopolitan city, from all the comments she made. I was so angry at how she reduced New York to nothing more than a dirty city. I mean she’s right, it does smell like urine everywhere, but it’s NEW YORK, I’ll take a little pee on the sidewalk over not living there any day.
The truth is, I love the cities that I live in and to me they are amazing so it’s always hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that other people don’t like my cities as much as I do. In fact, I can barely understand the concept of people not wanting to live in a city (where else are you supposed to live? The countryside?) I love big cities because they’re fast paced and exhilarating and there is always something to do. But I forget that those are precisely the reasons why people don’t like them. New York especially is a place that I’ve heard many Texans scoff at and dismiss as “somewhere they would never want to live.” It always takes everything in me because to not make some wise ass remark about how they couldn’t handle it anyway, because how dare they not value NYC as a place to live.
But the thing is, even though I love New York and Paris and all their big city pals, even I sometimes find myself thinking I may not want to be a city girl forever. I see articles about how married couples have to get roommates because their combined income just doesn’t cut it for rent. I watch as moms in the subway struggle to awkwardly get their strollers up the endless steps out onto the street. I work with kindergartners who don’t know the joy of running around in their own back yard and have to walk all the way to a local park to get the feel of some grass under their feet. Even worse, I see old people get bumped and pushed around as busy city dwellers fly off to their next appointment. I see all this and even I think sometimes, why would anyone want to live here? So I guess every once in a while I do have to put aside my tremendous pride of big cities and recognize that they aren’t exactly the warm homey places that some people need to live in and they are definitely not for everyone. I have to think that just like some people could never see themselves living in a big city, there is no way in hell I could ever live in a small town. A place where you actually know your neighbors (and they know everything about you)? Fuggedaboutit.
Who knows, maybe some day I’ll get tired of hopping along from big city to big city. Maybe some day I’ll move to a (slightly) smaller city and be ok with not having great museums and bars all over the place. But that’s not gonna happen for a looooonggg time. In the meantime I’ll keep repping the East side (and Paris) and you can be sure to find me at the Louvre.