Do you get the feeling that some cities smile at you? They have more happy people than is necessary, there is more music on the streets, people dress in styles and colors that reflect careful attention before they leave their bedrooms every morning, and a dash of a positive fresh outlook on life. I come from the Mediterranean, grew up in a city that was still laughing, cracking jokes, and making music while being torn apart. To me, cities were conceived since the beginning of time to welcome people. They were built with people in mind. It is their expectation to have a constant flow of people come into them, visit them, live in them, sometimes leave them, die in them, be born in them, a cycle of life. Cities expect to always have their people arguing with each other, making up, getting cheated in markets, building futures with dreams bigger than the city, some leaving the city in search of elusive dreams and big plans. Cities are also great places for being in love. It is then that you discover with a sense of wonder a new face of a familiar city or the striking looks of a new one. You have a new appreciation of the beauty of your surroundings the moment that unfathomable feeling hits you. People can live their lives in a place and not notice its soft attractive attributes until the love bug bites these unsuspecting victims. Passing buses become good samaritans that swallow up people to spit them up where they need to be. People on the street appear happier, making eye contact in a complicit way that makes the lover feel understood. Street musicians are there to play their soft tunes just for you and your dreams of your loved one, to bring back memories of moments shared and cherished, forever on repeat like an itunes song you programmed to play in your ears every waking moment because it reminds you of the love of your life. Buildings look more elegant, bridges have a sense of purpose that you acknowledge and appreciate, gardens and park benches take on a fairy look where magic accosts you at every turn. The city puts on its favorite dress in the color of hope, stitched with happiness, decorated with buttons of dreams and silky sashes of promise.
What makes our favorite cities likable and endearing are our feelings when strolling the streets and taking in the view of people going on with their lives, providing the props for our elaborate takes of the bestseller movie of our daydreams. What if our love was here, there, on this corner, on that bench, riding on that bus? What if we met under that tree,or bumped into one another on a street corner like in a Meg Ryan movie? You walk, and you dream, and the city takes on a friend’s demeanor when listening intently to your heart’s deepest secrets. And that city becomes your confidante, and you like everything about your new friend.
If a city beckons at you with open arms and a wide smile, you must be in a state that you yourself were not aware of until you saw your contented smile reflected in a fountain, a rain puddle, or in a store window where people are living, buying, selling, and some, just like you, loving.