La Isla Bonita (2)

I literally used to hide in my closet with headphones clasped tight to my as yet unpierced ears, hoping the dice of the airwaves — when they yet mattered — would roll onto Gina G’s “Ooh, Ahh, Just a Little Bit.” I was eleven — cut me some slack.

That experience was my introduction to a broader world; couched in my bedroom closet, clutching my Walkman, tuning in to what was then a terrifying yet new world, terrifying in its newness and what demands it’d make of a precocious tow-headed fat kid from a dying once-industrial city. Even now, I can’t let go of the place, its empty plants and still warehouses, pretending at its best still to be the non-Chicago hub of mighty manufacturing. That is gone, of course — hi-speed rail connecting Rockford to the shipping lanes of the city, Milwaukee, Madison, Des Moines would make too much economic sense for Springfield.

And so it goes. Rockford dwindles — perhaps rightfully so — and Chicago gains. That’s the 21st c. in nuce — the cities get larger, far beyond their breaking point, and the towns (I write this, despite the fact that Rockford’s MSA is ~330k) just bleed and bleed. I’m not innocent. Part of the reason I chose Dartmouth over Harvard was because I wasn’t ready for “the big city.” Boston is not a “big city” by any metric, yet it seemed so, long before I lived in Berlin. Frankfurt a.M. and eventually Boston itself. For whatever reason — having been educated in the hinterlands, I didn’t know how to comport myself around daughters and sons and cousins of former and future presidents. A field I’d yet to learn how to navigate, unsure if I even could.

~ by Benji on June 26, 2019.

One Response to “La Isla Bonita (2)”

  1. Hmm. I wish we could write a book together. I was nervous about Oxford for the same reason (one of my contemporaries studying Japanese, I discovered, was a Lord) and yes, there are cities and there are towns. I think the same phenomenon is happening all over the world. I live in a (smallish) city, but long for a town (like Oxford, which may well call itself a City these days).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: