Thursday, March 22, 2007

City of Young Blood, City of Drifters

I've noticed most of my new young friends here in Boston moved here for similar reasons to mine. Not the literature scene, necessarily, but the desire to move somewhere and overwhelming freedom of nothing in particular pulling you in any certain direction. I've met no one who moved here for a job or even for school. Like me, so many people my age cite groped and grasped reasons for coming here, of all places. Like me, a lot of people had friends or family coming here whom they followed. A lot of people wanted to get away from their previous home and this place "seemed as good as any." Some came here hoping to find school, or art, or love. Me, when people ask why I came here, I've taken to saying, "You have to be somewhere."

I wonder, really, if any big city would be like this. Full of kids who just had to get away. Running to the coast is almost a trope now, but is New York filled with such wandering, directionless searchers? Would LA or San Francisco hold so many people who came for no reason, or barely half-formed, half-baked, half-grasped reasons contrived during or after the fact of the actual decision? What about Seattle? Portland?

One of my many theme songs of late has been Tangled Up in Blue, which is about drifters, and the epic lives of everyone you've ever met. "Heading out to the old East Coast, Lord knows he paid some dues getting through." I listen to the lines and nod.

Drifters like the sea for the same reasons sailors do. The sea is freedom, and in a city where you can't really see the sky or the mountains, it's a constant reminder of how small you are, and how ingrained, and how young, and of course how much you don't know.

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