You know, sometimes I envy suburban tourists. I truly do.
After all, they don’t have to wait 10 minutes each way for an elevator when they leave their homes; don’t have to smell what 15 people are cooking for dinner … at the same time; don’t have to listen to their neighbor argue with her partner at 2am every morning.
After coming home from work last Friday, I felt like making some noise; so I plugged in my guitar, played the first three bars of ‘Spoonman’, and almost as if on queue … a *knock* *knock* *knock* came on my bedroom wall.
For the week my bedroom-wall neighbor was gone, I got a little taste of what freedom was like, and I gotta tell you … I liked it. Apeing Kim Thayil riffs through a cheap, 10-year-old pair of Sony headphones is … well, it just isn’t the same as doing it through a 100 watt 2×12 Fender Amp.
So, yes, even I, a life-long city-dweller and hater of all things suburban … even I get the itch to move to a nice house in the sticks every now and then. You won’t see me admit it very often, but I’m accurately aware of, and often even envious of the benefits of being a tourist.
Although the lure of a suburban house is strong at times, rarely does it last long, however. Once I begin pining for a slightly less crowded lifestyle, I’m always quickly reminded of why, all things considered, it could never be the life for me.
Last night was one of those reminders.
As I was finishing up a Perl script that I’d been working on for the better part of the day, the clock struck 11pm. Realizing that there was only an hour left before 2012 turned into 2013, I walked into the living room and solicited opinions.
What would it be this year? A quiet celebration? New Year’s Rockin’ Eve? Hookers and blow?
My last suggestion was quickly dismissed, as everyone was getting a little tired of the hookers and blow routine. Especially my youngest. According to her, elementary school is challenging enough without having to read ‘Fun with Dick and Jane’ in front of the class while coming down.
“Let’s go watch the fireworks at the Space Needle instead!”, she suggested … and after a show of hands, the decision was made.
We put our shoes on, caught the next elevator, and 20 minutes later, we were standing under the Space Needle.
On our way there, we watched with equal parts amusement and pity, as hundreds of cars circled the area, searching for parking.
Parking. The ever-present ball and chain which lords over the tourist’s life like an iron-fisted dictator.
Parking. The omnipotent bitch-goddess that almost single-handedly turns freedom into fascism for millions of suburbanites nationwide.
Try scheduling an urban get-together with anyone from the suburbs, and it’s always the first question: “How about parking?”, “Do they have parking?”, “Where can I park?”, “How much does it cost to park?”, “Is parking free?”, “Do they validate parking?”. After awhile, it starts to sound like its own language, or possibly even the symptoms of a weird disease … perhaps Tourist Tourettes … “parking parking parking parking parking parking parking parking parking parking parking”.
Parking. It’s the very center of the suburbanite universe. The act of leaving ones car to sit and do nothing. The very banality of it all is the yin to my suburban-longing yang. The coup de grace to any notion that I could ever, ever, move out of the city.
As we walked along Denny, watching drunk people jockey for spaces, run red lights, and side-swipe pedestrians, it occurred to me that as bad as my neighbors were … and they are pretty bad … I could never live amongst the tourists who had descended upon my fair city on this particular night. Their culture remains foreign to me, and even though I’m sure I could acclimate for a day, a week, a month, or perhaps even a year — I could never truly sell myself into the slavery that is car-dependance. As much as it pains me to do so, I’d rather play ‘Spoonman’ through a pair of cheap, 10 year-old Sony headphones.
In any event, the fireworks were spectacular as always. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and I’ll repeat it every January 1st for the rest of my life … I’ll put Seattle’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show against any other city’s in the world, regardless of occasion.
I’ve seen many a big display … Washington DC’s July 4th Bi-Centennial show, New York City’s NYE Y2K and Y2K July 4th displays, Las Vegas’ Y2K10 event, and a whole bunch of spectaculars in years in-between. Despite having pretty much seen it all, I can tell you this with every ounce of sincerity I have:
There’s no better show in my opinion, than the Space Needle fireworks on New Year’s Eve.