I’m not a city girl. Anyone who knows me will attest to that, even though I’ve lived in cities my whole life – that’s always been where my job is and, as a desk jockey, there are few options out of a city. I’m fortunate that I’ve lived in the two best cities in the world (I may be biased here, and my research may be flawed – I’ve only ever lived in two cities).
Cities provide essential services – job, shops, bars, restaurants, theatres – that I use regularly, but I don’t like the traffic, the noise, the crowds, and I’ve always escaped to the countryside as often as I can or, in Wellington’s case, the coast. Obviously I can’t do that at the moment, which is a little challenging, especially as, in an act of monumental bad timing, Neil and I moved from a four-bed house with garden into a two-bed apartment (without even a deck) just before lockdown started. So we’re not even in the leafy suburbs (crikey, slipped back to Sheffield there – not sure Wellington has leafy suburbs) but slap bang in the CBD. It’s only for a few months, we thought, and we can get out of the city easily. Uh oh…
I’ve surprised myself at how well I’m coping at not being able to drive away from buildings into nature. I’m suspiciously surprised (who am I?) that I miss the noise and the bustle of a city, the two things normally top of my anti-city list. When we visited New York I noticed that even in the middle of the night, there was always a buzz, an indistinct hum of distant noise. I never noticed it here but now, there it is, no traffic to mask it.
Today I can march down almost deserted streets that I previously grumbled along as people wandered aimlessly in front of me but it is, frankly, unnerving. I feel like I’ve been dropped into a movie of a post-apocalyptic world – any minute I expect to see Will Smith or Christopher Eccleston appear, (yes please!) some form of self-defensive weapon held aloft. Probably with a dog. There’s always a dog, isn’t there?
So despite my protestations otherwise, I’m quite looking forward to people coming back into the city. Not least because it will hopefully mean that bars and restaurants are open again and the world is nearer normal.