This is a retrospective post, originally created in October of 2015 and then lost. I still think the idea of connectedness and living in a city through all senses is worthwhile sharing.
I spent much of the winter months last year wondering whether I needed to change my habits to live to the fullest in my new city-home. Here was the thought process: I remembered living in Egypt, where my default routine was going to school (or work) in the morning, running errands on the way home, and spending my evening at home. Learning of my daily routine, my language partner in Egypt made a point of introducing me to the night life of Alexandria – an essential part of life in a big city, she said. Duly impressed, I began to experiment with going out at night, perceiving my evening excursions to businesses or the harbor as the defining characteristic of a city dweller.
But my explorations into city life were cut short just as I began them, as the last month of my semester abroad coincided with massive political protests. I lived through an adjustment that was unfinished, interrupted too soon, but was it truly simply an adjustment to Alexandria, Egypt? Was I not also adjusting to life in a huge metropolis? Perhaps, now that I live again in a ~4 million-strong city, I can complete that process. I can remember the behavior adjustments I made abroad and incorporate them into my life here, changing my behavior to fit the urban setting. And in the end, I’ll have a better life as I exploit the opportunities inside this city.
Now I know different: a nightlife outside my home requires a social life outside my home. Regarding a social life, with my language partner I had a reason to venture into the cafés, the restaurants, the outdoor shopping malls. Without her, I knew no one other than the three men living directly beneath me and with whom I spent most evenings. In the States, I have friends living all over my metropolis, and we have the means (cars, public transit, a bike) to get together. And friends and I do get together – I have social gatherings at my house or theirs maybe once a week. But I also live with friends, so again the hub of my social life is in my home. Yes, my routine is still a steady commute out, commute home, stay home, but this winter I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on something better. I know I’m doing just fine.