Thursday, February 6, 2014

Falling in Love Easily and Often

Journalist Mignon McLaughlin said, "We all become great explorers during our first few days in a new city, or a new love affair." 

I fall in love often, and I fall in love hard (with cities, that is). Cities have become one of my life's greatest love affairs. The beauty is that they're all so unique, and there are so many places to explore. Even if I find a city I'm not that into, there are plenty more to fill the void.  My passion for communities has gone from just liking cities to really falling madly in love with so many different places. I visit new cities and can't wait to check out physical design and walkable downtowns, green space, public art, and transit. These assets are part of what make great places, but there are also those indefinable characteristics that make you fall in love. Some cities have a heart and a soul that just reach out to you and keep you coming back. They've got that indescribable spirit that makes places great.

In our busy lives it's sometimes hard to separate work from the rest of your life. In my case it's nearly impossible because loving cities isn't just what I do; it's who I am. How else could I go to Marquette, Michigan in January and come back smitten?  How can I explain the palpable need I have to travel to cities who've got it all? It wasn't an accident that I went to Washington, D.C. more than a half a dozen times last year. I find myself riding the metro even when I don't need to because it's transit...and I don't have that here in Michigan. I crave transit. That's weird...I get it. I get away, I get my fabulous city fix, and then I come back more passionate than ever about why Michigan's cities are important.  It's not just fluff. Cities are an economic driver, and that's real. Falling in love with them is just the icing on the cake.

It's not just me. Research shows that millennials (kids from their early 20s to mid-30s...I just squeak into the category) are moving to cities in overwhelming numbers.  They want to be where the action is. They don't want to own a car. They feel that unmistakable energy that you get by visiting or living or just being in a city. So sure, I'm a bit promiscuous with my love for cities, but at least I'm not alone.

When I embarked on this blog project nearly three years ago, I didn't realize how much sharing my love for both cities and running would continue to fuel my passion for both. I've run in so many different places, and each one has been intriguing for its own reasons. I've seen communities in ways I never would've seen them otherwise. I've seen bustling downtowns, quaint neighborhoods, and country roads. Running has been a way for me to quietly reflect on cities and on life, which are not that mutually exclusive for me. I'll be in Chicago again in a few weeks to continue our torrid love affair, and I can't wait to lace up my running shoes and fall in love with the city all over again. Don't judge me. The heart wants what the heart wants.

Life is short my friends. Find something that you love, something that ignites your passion and inspires your soul. Because falling in love over and over again never gets old.

*I tried to find the perfect song to end this blog that would describe my city love affairs. I narrowed it to two very different ones.The titles are really what's perfect...and they're two super catchy songs. Also please forgive LL for dissing the bus stop at the end of pro-transit post.



We We all become great explorers during our first few days in a new city, or a new love affair.

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