Curious Jeff goes to the city

Ah, big cities.
Where expansive views are disrupted by towers, which at night illuminate ever-changing rectangular constellations as the clean crew replaces the suit crew. Businessmen, locals and tourists trace paved squares and rectangles of development past neon signs, stickers and printed ads telling us what to eat, watch or how to think. A dude in the habiliments of the homeless rests next to a garbage can and touches an iPad. He’s the exception, not the rule, and there’s a lot more story there I’m sure, but it’s worth noting.
I don’t mind visiting big cities. I’d really prefer to visit them when it doesn’t involve brain surgery for my mother, but once or twice a year I get curious about where we’re at. Big cities can be an indication of where the folks away from the guest house I rented in the country outside of Manteca, CA, or the house on an island in rural Alaska I now call home, are taking us. Some big city dwellers think they know what’s best for everyone and nature because they sat at a coffee joint after smoking a joint read Into the Wild, the Huffington Post then blogged about their conclusions. Some speak out on behalf of those who believe that a government which is irresponsible, broke and currently shutdown has not earned the privilege of handling more money and more power through legislation and tax increases. They deduce that the more people are dependent on the government for care, money or a way of living, the less free we all become. Others calmly keep their heads down and go about their business.
Cities also give me lessons in style. I can’t go into everything I’ve seen, but one thing I found particularly noteworthy was a tip in fall fashion. If the weather is getting colder (cooler than 50 degrees) wear a scarf and jacket, because they go exceptionally well with designer jeans and flip flops.
But that’s not how everyone is. The clerk at the convenience store recognized a buddy back in line and excitedly told him he’d field-dressed his first animal over the weekend. The clerk seemed cautious, as if he didn’t want to offend myself or the lady behind me by saying “gutted my first deer”, or “Dude, over the weekend I shot a deer in the knee, chased it over the ridge, then cut out everything but forgot the heart and urine bag.”
I chimed in without thought.
“Nice man, what was it?”
He looked at me as if surprised to find another comrade in arms, in the city.
“Just a two-point.”
“Hey, a deer’s a deer, congratulations.”
“Thanks buddy.”
He looked like he wanted to jump over the counter and tell the story with both hands though I’d only known him for the time it takes to execute a business transaction of less than $10.
That’s when I knew for absolutely sure that I’m not a city dude and never will be.
Five days ago I drove three minutes to a pull off on the side of the mostly vacant highway and walked to the river on a trail worn by boots, not cut by machines. I fished for ten minutes in the river made angry by sheets of rain before I realized there was a black bear on the other side looking at me. Once we connected eyes, he went back to his fish. His point was made. The food chain gets pretty gray when all you have is a fishing rod.
As my days in the city continue, the longing for home will increase, if only to be able to free mom from hospital meals.
But it’s been an education trip for sure.

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