I am not like her, a smartly done up urban woman walking briskly down the street, a swirling array of long scarves bunched fashionably around my neck, coffee-to-go in hand, a bold red wall branded with black graffitti as my backdrop. This woman, in this particular environment of gritty red and black, could be a glossy magazine advertisement for . . . something I am not.
No, I am not like her, but I like her -- this smart, brisk urban woman. She has stamped herself onto the world, she is confident and sure-footed.
Having lived in San Francisco for the last thirty-two years, you would think I might have acquired a more prominent urban style, myself. And I have, but it's more inner than outer. I have learned, for example, to assimilate sounds in a different way. I am more accepting of cacophony, more appreciative. I can embrace the co-existence of jack hammer with the whisper of a breeze through stalwart urban trees.
The silence of a small town at night amazes me now. The last time I visited friends in Sonoma, I walked down the sidewalk past dark-windowed houses, and the quiet felt as vast as the wide, filled-only-with-stars-and-moon-sky. Oh, and there was also the blackness. Total, immense blackness, or so it seemed to me from my urbananite's point of view.
As far as people and social activities go, I have remained mostly a loner, often a hermit. I have a handful of dear friends, many of whom scamper from restaurants to theaters to museums to literary readings as I sit alone on my comfie couch, feeling fulfilled and relieved by the fact that I know so few of my neighbors' names. But at the same time, there is a melting pot of people/cultures/ethnicities and differences that lives inside me now, and it is always simmering, and I am always stirring it -- with fascination and gratitude.
My bold urban style does not manifest in the realm of fashion or social whirlwinds, but I have changed in other ways. For instance, I now know how to hear and love my cat's tiny whistling snore, even when beset by the roar of traffic at dawn.