In King City?
Oddly, since peeling out early yesterday morning, I’ve been thinking about King City. One street, peuce hotel room, dusty little King City. At 6:35am I kissed it goodbye in my rearview mirror. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough. But somehow, I can’t stop thinking about it – can’t stop thinking about how I mastered the town in three hours – how delicious the food was at the Guadalajara restaurant on the main drag – how perfect the smell of freshly popped popcorn in the tiny movie theater across the street – how singularly disgusting the restaurant/curio shop was next to the hotel. Weirdly, I sort of fell in love with the place in less than 24 hours.
Sig Other and I talked about this briefly – why it is that such a place should harbor such fondness. Why I will drive back to Bradley, CA (population 120) to take photographs later today before heading out for the next stop. Perhaps, we mused, it’s because places like Bradley and King City pretend to be nothing other than what they are – small, a little depressed, a little proud. King City is authentic to its true self. And that is what I liked about it.
I feel the same about big cities. I’ve always been comfortable and happy in big cities – particularly a prideful, boasting, self-adoring city. I adore London (which is advantageous as am there every other month or so). And my love affair with Manhattan – loud, crazy, dirty, beautiful, bustling Manhattan - may never end, in spite of an acute awareness that the movie business fell out of love long ago and made its way west, abandoning the apple to Wall Street and its sycophantic cousins.
I was, however, born with an aversion to suburbs – indecisive sprawls putting on airs of the big city but grasping for small town quaintness. This is truly a case of nature vs nurture. I was born in a suburb, raised in suburbs, had nothing horrific happen to me in suburbs. My siblings don’t share my aversion. Nor does my mother. But I loathe them. Loathe the middle-ness of it all, hovering someplace between the bustle and crackling energy of any big city and the quiet melody of true small town life.
And yet I live – have lived for almost 25 years – in the greatest sprawl in the country. I’ve never been in love with Los Angeles – not like Sig Other. Sig Other LOVES Los Angeles – it is his home, his passion, his city. I live there because I must. My work is there. My home is there. I have found great things about my city – great food and culture and tucked away corners, great friends and hidden treasures and ways to get around traffic when I truly must. But deep down, if I could live anywhere, if Sig Other would pick up and leave with me, I wouldn’t choose LA. I wouldn’t choose to live smack in the middle of indecisive sprawl. I’d choose the city. I’d choose the country. I’d choose a place that sings in bold colors and proudly wears its identity whether great or small.
And so I come back to thinking about King City as I head out on Day Four of the ride. I’m in a sort of suburb now – a city grasping to hang on to its small town roots but losing the battle to housing developments and shopping malls. And I’ll make my way to the next town – one caught between two worlds as this one is. But I think I’ll take the back roads – think I’ll cling to the rural routes and keep the illusion a little longer that I’m on a road trip to a thousand King Cities and Bradleys and such…