City Flex

Cities are stratified and contradictory.

Success lays down with poverty and pays it with a hundred-dollar bill it calls opportunity. Poverty longs for the day it can ride in an elevator because the city looks better the higher up you get. True poverty would laugh at this ambition, but it’s trying to get fed. It doesn’t feel like laughing, not very often.

Above all, cities depend on movement. When some part of it, say a red blood cell, decides to stop moving, it leaves the city. The hair follicle might scoff. “Decide to stop moving, that’s rich. Some of us just get cast out.” Resources get redirected. New people move in, try to move ahead, around, above. Pushing, pushing; the growth is relentless and the virus swirls and envelops, always movement. Does the red blood cell, reclining in Florida on an astro-turfed balcony, regret never quite making it to the brain?

The countryland believes in self-reliance and votes that way. The city knows the social compact is what keeps itself from imploding and votes that way. Yet country people tout their close-knit bonds and put community first, while the city is the most selfish place imaginable and it’s every man for himself. The ultimate expression of independence and liberty is the ability to screw your neighbors out of some opportunity or value because you need it more. Citizens pay for social services for the same reason they pay for trash services: it’s not compassion, it’s economies of scale. Efficiency.

Early landholders fought nature and tamed it. Countryland people hold on to that past even though the country has a sale on snow tires next month and nature can be tamed by putting a treehouse in it. Meanwhile the city is trying to kill me as hard as nature ever did.

I pass everyone by.


About ernestwhile

I live in New York City. I built a world of Lego bricks, colorful and simple and foreign. I've been picking it apart ever since.
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2 Responses to City Flex

  1. Marian Green says:

    Is that where you’ve been? Getting trampled by the city? I’ve missed your writing. And was happy to see you’d posted. : )

  2. ernestwhile says:

    The city takes from me every day. Yet for some reason I persist. I don’t know why. Honestly.

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