what makes a city home?

A couple of days ago our refrigerator stopped working. It took me a day to reconcile myself to the fact that I would need to buy a replacement because unfortunately, repair is a laughable concept anymore. But after getting over the initial annoyance, I realized that the now dead refrigerator was thirteen years old. We bought it new, just a basic model, right after we moved into our house. That refrigerator was well past its due date. That got me to thinking, wow, we’ve lived in Denver for a while now. Actually, the longest stay in one city for either my wife or me since we left New York – for me, when I was eighteen. Since then, I’ve lived in four other cities. And of them all, Denver feels most like home. I wonder sometimes, who changed more, me or the city I live in (yep, I say “who” because to me cities have a lot of human qualities). I suppose the truth is that we’re both different. When we first got to Denver, we were visiting from Detroit. We thought it was “cute.” I remember thinking “boy, you can walk from one edge of downtown to the other in a few minutes.” The weather the weekend we visited was typical of this city in the late winter – crisp, bright sunshine, and people enjoying the outdoors. I’m sure that if we could have just stayed and had our stuff shipped directly we would have done so. It’s funny now to think one of my biggest hesitations about moving to Denver was the fact that it is the only city I’ve lived in that isn’t located on or near a large river or body of water. Denver has the South Platte River which for me was kind of creek-like. River? Please. And the colors I noticed were mostly shades of brown, not the greens I grew up with. Fast forward to today – I still think of myself as a New Yorker but I’m probably not really. I still love to go “home” to visit family but everything feels different now. Adam Gopnik captured this felt difference perfectly in one of my favorite books, Paris to the Moon. The real cultural differences between Denver and New York or Detroit and Los Angeles for that matter are indeed “tiny and real.” I now see cities through a more Coloradan lens. These days New York feels fast, and expensive, and by the way that thing up river, that’s not a mountain! I still have friends in all of the cities I’ve lived but here, I have my adult friends. Big difference. Also, I’ve slowed my pace. I don’t want to do everything all the time now. My big-city, sixth-gear is, if not gone for good, probably pretty hard to shift into anymore. In the interim, this city has decidedly picked up its pace. Forbes recently ranked Denver as sixth on their list of America’s 20 Fastest-Growing Cities. The two of us are moving toward each other and I love it. The South Platte “River” no longer sounds ludicrous. Denver isn’t “home” just because I live here, it’s home because it feels like it too.

So, what makes a city home to you?

Paris to the Moon

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