I descended the stairs, down from the high platform level of the train station. The trains let you off at least ten stories up and the city below seemed almost melow in the purple hues of the setting sun. As I descended I began to be immersed in the chaos below, now lit by the neons and advertisements.
I passed out of the fair gates onto the elevated walkways that connect all manners of buildings to this station. For blocks in any direction you could walk, still several stories above the streets, free from the grim and bustle of the city below. Only pushy people up here.
I stopped to grab an iced coffee to quench my thirst in this city of eternal summer. While I waited I looked down at the traffic clogged on the street below. It’s one of the arterial streets, clogged night and day, and in the decades since this train was built, a kingdom of perpetual shadow.
A nice girl handed me my drink and my gaze turned to the buildings all around me. I had descended from roof level to mid-level and saw shops on every floor staring back at me. Each building had to contain dozens. Everything from electronics to toupees to handjobs could probably be procured in these odd structures, each with its own direct entrance from the high walkway, some sort of passage that had been retrofitted when the station complex was built. Most of them led you straight into some confusing warren, often directly into an unmarked and crowded stairwell. A baptism by fire, an instant confusion to the uninitiated.
I looked up, trying to gasp for some fresh air in this denser layer of the atmosphere. The smells of the city, meer whiffs up on platform level with the winds to scatter them, are overwhelming down here. My eyes, too, yeared to glimpse stars. My pupils were tainted by the garish advertisements and the stars are far too hidden by the column of lights the city throws up. They stare down, though we below are watched unknowingly.
The coffee hit the spot. The bitter cold quenched something deep within my restless soul. Despite the chaos, grit, and grime I fucking loved this city. Something about it spoke to me.
I’ve long felt that all cities were an affront to humanity- some aberration in the recent history of a nomadic bipedal primate. They were born of the vulgar notion, alien until unfortunately concocted, of property. From the initial to the modern, all are an anathema to our very humanity. Perhaps, then, the more dehumanizing the city the more it speaks to me. In for a penny in for a pound so to speak. If cities are against our very humanity, let us not try to bullshit our way to happiness with artificial facsimiles of nature. Let’s recognize cities as what they are, depriving us of nature and let them deprive us to their extreme.
I smiled at the thought. I’m sure the great rift valley was nice, but give me this canyon on concrete with a forest of columns holding up the train above. Let this be my savanna, and let me roam it in freedom.