For me my City of Sydney has always been a metaphor for optimism, success and happiness. I went to school in the City and have been travelling to see her since I was seven and that’s nearly fifty fives years ago. I have always loved her enormity and was swallowed up within her generous out stretched boundaries. Her concrete canyons were my mountains and her streets and parks the valleys. I detested the burbs; they were no place for a city dweller. I loved my city.
I count myself as lucky to have made it from the distant suburbs to have a five day a week love affair with all the movement and excitement. However as with all affairs things begin to sour. I got sick of the dirt, the noise, the traffic, the weekend violence and the over-consumption. I am now asking myself am I witnessing the disappearance of the City and has this happened in my life time?
In the early days I understood the City in terms of a beautifully constructed machine that was built and planned for the very act of business and trading but as I’m watching her standing there in the distance I feel I need her to be a beacon to connect and embrace the suburbs and the natural environment and perhaps to even bring them within her own boundaries. I no longer detest the burbs and I want the City to understand that revisiting an old relationship can be pleasurable.
With the advent of the Net I see the City merely as a consumer and producer of information. I assume she now has more computers than people with the only difference being that on Friday night the humans entertain themselves with a drink after work while the bots crawl through web sites 24/7.
From where I live on the bay I have seen her grow on the horizon and as I age my concept of distance has died and she seems closer and closer. I think she is asking me to come and visit for old time sake and I think it’s time for me to do that.
So next Friday night I’ll take myself to the city for a surprise visit mainly around the Port Jackson area. We’ll have a drink on the steps of the Opera House, we’ll enjoy good conversation beneath the shadow of the Harbour bridge and finally partake in a meal at one of the restaurants on the east side of Sydney Cove.
I’m going to find out if she still has a character of her own or has she become just a mere setting or background for the many stories of the 4.3 million people who live within the metropolitan area. I’m really looking forwarded to it and want my time in the City to be one where I’m enveloped in her functional and reassuring spaces. I want her to know I am not a machine, or an information hub; I am an old friend.
Although over the years I’ve known other cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, Geneva, Vienna, Brisbane and San Francisco I have always yearned to be back in Sydney. Will she still have her human qualities or has she become a venue for noise, for bustle and for picking up a partner on Friday night. I, for one, hope she still has the warm human qualities that made me love her because I want her to leave an impression on me against which I can put up no resistance.
How will the night end?