The word urbanity popped into my head — thanks to the word search triggered by the Challenge — while looking through old family photos.
When my mother visited last year, we took her on a city tour. Downtown L.A. (city center) is not a place I drive to often — the traffic is a mess — but her visit qualified as good reason to push through the stream of vehicles. And once there we had fun.
We also experienced … urbanity.
To have urbanity (my dictionary says) one must live in an urban setting, or close to one. I live in Southern California, a place of suburbs connected by highways and freeways. We have a decent downtown area, but nothing like Manhattan or the center of European cities.
When I lived in Europe, dressing up and going downtown (aka having urbanity), for culture or a stroll along streets lined with boutiques and coffee shops, was a normal occurrence. Everyone wanted to be downtown. The streets were filled with people.
Where I live now, everyone wants to be away from downtown. Those who venture there for a play or dinner, rush out of the venue and to their cars desperately trying to avoid the traffic.
So, over the years we exchanged urbanity for suburbanity, because there’s organization in the suburbs. We have developed neighborhoods, less traffic, houses with yards replacing apartment buildings, wide open streets, easy freeway access, parks, and most areas are thirty minutes away from the beach.
No car horns at all hours, no people coming out of clubs/bars at 2 o’clock in the morning. Just good ol’ peace.
I have fond memories of my urbanity days. Dressing up and going out on the town every weekend, in no hurry to find a silent place. What a difference a couple of decades makes.
When I got home it was clear that while fun, urbanity was abandoned in the days of youth for a reason — takes too much energy to keep up such a mood and lifestyle. So, I shoved it right back in its forgotten little corner. And there it shall reside until further notice.
How is the city center — or downtown area — where you live?
Photo courtesy: Night life in the city, from google user content.