I'll stick with a place that's alive!
Let’s start with my admission that after being out and about in this very alive city recently I was fully ready to get home and shove the fridge against the door.
Once I’ve had a day of relative peace and quiet I can take a deep breath and begin to again appreciate New York City all over again. This little goose of joy happens pretty much every time I turn a corner and find myself face to face with yet another wonder of this city.
The mess is plentiful but so are the wonders.
Now that our not-actually-winter is behind us and it's full-on spring throughout the city we again find ourselves surrounded by all manner of messed up humans doing messed up things (Yes, I’m looking at the bonehead smoking a joint on the subway). Nature of the beast.
According to the Google, the most livable city in the U.S. is Madison, Wisconsin. I come not to dis Madison but to say no way in any version of the multiverse would I choose to live there. Call me an old crank, but this is not even remotely attractive to me:
Known for charming residents and visitors alike, Madison’s natural beauty is unparalleled, as it is built on an isthmus between lakes Mendota and Monona and has more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, which means you’ll never run out of free ways to have fun. Other draws to the city? The Wisconsin state capital is noted for its farmers market bounty, beautiful architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright made his mark here) and serene lakes.
Madison, I’ll see your charming residents and raise you one Empire State Building with trash in the foreground.
I grew up in a series of picturesque small towns, real Americana complete with a gazebo in the park in the middle of town, an Elks’ Club, and a parade of fire engines and out-of-step marching bands every Fourth of July. I know from livable. Livable comes with a price I’m not willing to pay. I could be wrong — wouldn’t be the first time or the last time — but my experience was that livable = boring. And livable was also surprisingly isolating unless you’re interested in raising a family.
Weirdo, queer writer-types with curious ideas about life, art, sex, and love need not apply.
Say what you will about the expense and the crime and the noise and the dirt and the craziness and the pace and the hundred thousand other ways this city offends, injures, and otherwise disgusts. It’s never boring and a surprising number of people in this loony bin of a city are really fun to hang out with.
Will I sing a different tune if (when?) something bad happens to me?
What makes you think bad things haven’t already happened to me…here and in several of those idyllic little towns I fled when I was 18?
Bad things happen everywhere to everyone at some point. Oh, you didn't get the memo?
Here, however, I’ve never had to come to terms with the bad things on my own. Not only do I have the best friends on the planet who have stepped up time after time to care for and with me, but even my neighbors have been there for me. Eric and Simon across the hall bought me a box of chocolates after I was beaten up in the front hallway of our building a couple of years ago.
Thanks, guys! Now we gang up on the landlord together when the elevator’s down.
What do I know? Madison is probably a really wonderful place — aside from the unpleasant fact that you have to own a car to get anywhere — filled with happy people and unhappy ones as well. Just like any other place.
But let's not be tossing that word livable around too much.
It’s not what everyone’s looking for in the place they decide to call home. Some of us thrive in places others consider unlivable. Be happy we're happy here because it's pretty much a given that you don't want us living next door.