Can You Love a City?

London will always be the city that I love.

Too many mornings we woke up together as I drifted into the north end of town on the first train, then disappeared underground for five stops, emerging at Victoria Station. Too many late nights we drifted off together as I slipped away in my Mini Cooper, listening to David Gray’s “Babylon” and hitting the M40, driving west toward the darkness and the smell of trees.

Summer in London reveals why cricket is such a hot, deliberate, long game. The grassy greens at the centers of all the small London towns drift with the slow movements of London men wearing all white. The fields echo with the crack of a bat making contact, or clink as the wickets are split. Loud protests are followed by grins and sing-song “heys” as the games end in pubs with names like The Polecat or The Cross Keys.

Then comes autumn, with its chilly train stations and the smell of furnaces burning in a million attached houses. Clouds move faster across the London sky than anywhere else in the world, trying to catch a quickly fleeing summer. One day the leaves are losing their green – the next day they are gone.

London is quiet in the winter, and still the people travel in and out of that heaving metropolis, their eyes looking down at the sidewalk, mist falling on to their tense shoulders. The pubs and restaurants are loud in the winter, standing room only, and that last glass of port will keep the chill out as you run to your train and slip inside, just before the doors close and the warmth and the rocking motion put you to sleep.

And then, the slow, inevitable approach of spring. The rain cleans the city. The grass grows again. Train windows are eased open to let in the air, and everything smells new. People smile again. The world seems not such a bad place after all.

What’s your favorite city in the world? Why?

23 Replies to “Can You Love a City?”

  1. If, in cricket, one can hit one out of the park, you just did that. Wow. Now I can’t just tell you Pittsburgh for ever and always. I have to go write an ode to the City of Champions. Well done. This actually reminds me of the detailed descriptions I’m (still) reading in Fitzgerald’s “Beautiful and Damned.”

    1. Growing up just outside of Pittsburgh and living just an hour and a bit away now, it’s still one of my favorites. Some surprisingly fantastic music venues, a great symphony orchestra, awesome sports teams (mostly), a fantastic zoo, spectacular museums (with one of the largest dinosaur exhibits in the world) and some of the best ethnic food evah.

      I’ve been around, but I’ve never found a city that I love as much as the ‘Burgh.

      1. Oh, and if anyone is ever in the Pittsburgh area, let me know. I’m just over an hour away and would absolutely drive to hang out.

  2. After reading this, I want to go London even more. One day, perhaps. My current favorite city is Asheville, NC. I love the sweeping mountain vistas, the hilly streets, the quirky artsy vibe. In Asheville, I love how a street preacher can be on one corner and a few blocks down the the Marxist society hands out its flyers. The city pulses with diversity. Of course, the fact that my favorite chocolate shop is in downtown Asheville solidifies its standing as my favorite city.

  3. I really love Savanbah, GA. There is not a city in the world where you will eat better!

  4. New York, always and forever – you love it till you hate it and then you hate till you love it all over again.

  5. I went to New York last summer and within minutes I loved it. Each day we spent there made me love it more. I think I got caught in the romance of the place. And I felt like I had lived there my whole life. In some ways I had. how many of the movies and TV shows I had grown up watching took place in NY?

    Then again, I was only there for 3 days. I imagine the romance would wear off eventually.

  6. My honeymoon was in Boston. Such a great city, the history is literally everywhere. There was something that almost seemed magical about it and it makes me want to go back again.

    However, a place near to my heart is State College, PA. I grew up not too far from there, will always be a Penn State fan, and would love to end up living in Happy Valley someday soon.

  7. Hands down, Venice. Didn’t think I’d like it, but I fell in love immediately. I love the slow pace of this sleepy city. You can walk and walk and never get lost. Really, there is no better place. :)

    {love your thoughts on London!}

  8. Definitely Cape Town in South Africa. You don’t have to chose between mountain or ocean because they’re both right there. And it’s surrounded by wineries, including a few in the city. And it’s very culturally diverse.

    I could go on and on…

  9. I know it’s cliche but I adore Birmingham (where I live.) I definitely stay by choice. Amazing food balances out the humidity and occasional tornado.

    The only city I’ve made a conscious decision to revisit more than a few times is San Francisco. I think it’s perfection!

  10. New Orleans is my favorite city…. it is a beautiful city from the architecture to the food and the people.

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