by Mary Elizabeth Raines, (c) 2014
We are all cities.
We have downtowns with amazing and unique architecture.
Our friends are invited to ride down classy, tree-lined streets lined with the gorgeous homes of the rich.
The gardens in our cities are lush and well tended, impressive places of shade and rest and loveliness.
There are cops to keep us safe, and huge banks to protect our wealth.
We have art galleries spilling with color, stalwart stone museums that organize and record our fragile history, and fascinating restaurants brimming with heady scents and tastes to nurture us.
Sometimes we string festive lights on our trees and streets and throw parties.
These are the parts of us that we tend to show to others. Especially prospective lovers.
Visitors are very impressed.
There are other places in our cities, though—hidden, crumbling, and even shameful spots. Nobody is immune. Nobody’s city is entirely beautiful and entirely safe.
All of us have pockets of crime.
Rats in the subway.
Roofs caving in.
There are corners where drug dealers and psychopaths lurk, and unsafe neighborhoods, and here and there, leaking sewage spewing disease.
Somewhere in everyone is a derelict pushing a rusty shopping cart who curses at all the passers-by.
Yup, that’s part of who we are as well.
Not one soul on earth has a perfect city.
Not one person exists without a street they would prefer to hide.
Nor is anyone’s city entirely evil.
Does not the most hardened criminal soften like a little boy when he eats an ice cream cone, or weep at his grandmother’s funeral? May not the drunken prostitute pause and look in rapture and longing at the full moon?
Do not love only the pretty parts of the city that that is another, or is you. See it all and embrace the totality — the complex miracle of all that we are. For we are all cities.