A Tale of Two Cities, by Rich Paschall
Recently The Daily Prompt asked this question: “If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?” Normally I am not a Daily Prompt kind of guy. I am on the subscriber list, but usually by the time I read the email notice, it is a day or two later and I just delete. This one sounded rather intriguing, so I stashed it away for later use.
If you have been visiting this space regularly, you may have noticed that Marilyn responded to the question when is was posted over a week ago. If you read SERENDIPITY, her choices would not have been a surprise to you. If you missed it, you can run right over there now and read her response. You will find it here. Don’t forget to come back!
What would you pick? Would your home town be included? Would your current residence be a choice? Remember, in this scenario you can have any two cities. Shall it be a northern city for summer and a warmer climate for winter? I guess you can reverse that if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. If you are close enough to the Equator, you have no need to move away from the cold.
Maybe you need somewhere exotic as one of your stops. Fiji comes to my mind. There must be somewhere in the South Pacific that is warm and inviting. If you think we must be restricted to cities, then I will say that Nadi, Fiji has about 50,000 people so we will count it as a city rather than a village. If your home is in Nadi, I guess you can still spend plenty of time on a beach on the other side of the island.
How about a European capital? I have always found London inviting. Author Samuel Johnson once famously stated, “…when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” I guess that could be said of many of the great cities of the world. I found Rome, Paris and Brussels all to be interesting and vibrant cities. I have not been to other European capital cities. Perhaps our choice of two cities should include one unknown and one known.
If you have not been to the other side of the world from where you are, would you chose a city solely on the recommendation of others? Would you do an internet search of other places, or strictly stay with what you know?
When my father retired and moved from the cold of the Midwest to Florida, I began to understand the attraction of what they called “snowbirds” in the South. These were the people who kept their homes in the north, but spent the winters in the south. I loved Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota and many of the Gulf cities. I could see doing exactly that. Perhaps your second city would be in another warm climate. Arizona? Southern California? Hawaii?
Actually, it did not take me long to settle on two spots. When I eliminated the fantasies and considered what is most important, I knew the answers. First would be Chicago. It is a world-class city with world-class attractions. It has major sports teams and fine stadiums, old and new. It has theater and concert venues and the major shows and Rock and Roll acts make it here when they tour. There is a lakefront that stretches the entire east side of the city, with open parkland, beaches and museums.
Al Capone does not live here. We are not the murder capital of the country, we are not even in the top 10. We do get a lot of publicity when there is crime. Like every big city, we have big city problems. I would say these problems are increased by the NRA suing the city over any attempt to keep guns away from gangs and criminals, but that is another column. We have friendly people who celebrate diversity.
You may not have heard of my other choice. I guess it is not really a city, but rather a small town of about 20,000 people. It is in the beautiful Alsace region of France. You will find small towns with ancient buildings sprinkled among the vineyards. In the distance on top of some of the hills, you will find castles left from centuries ago. If you say that this will not do, I must pick a larger “city,” I will move a short distance to the north and the lovely city of Strasbourg, capital of the European Union.
Why would I pick such completely different places on two different continents? Why would I choose places that have similar climates, where neither will escape the snow and cold? How could I spend half a year in a big city and half in a small town which holds none of the major attractions? The answer to me is quite simple.
The locale is no longer the most important consideration when deciding where to live. At one time it may have been important. When I am retired and tired of shoveling snow, maybe I would desire the warm weather locations. Now it is about family and friends. Aunts and cousins of various generations are here in Chicago. Friends made recently and friends since childhood are here too.
In France is one of my best friends. He spent a year here in 2009 and when he left we maintained our friendship through visits once or twice a year, here and in France. When I go to France we always see things I have not seen before, so it is great adventure. If he was somewhere else in France, then I would name that city instead. Spending time with family and close friends, no matter where they reside, makes their locations the places I want to be. For now my choices are Chicago, Illinois and Communauté de communes de Sélestat et environs. Where are your two homes to be?