Since I finally caved and signed up for Duke City Fix (note: wasn't against it, just wasn't sure I could maintain another online presence) I figured an appropriate way to start things would be to write a little love note to the city that has been my home for the last 19 years.
I remember first arriving in the city back in '91. I wouldn't call it love at first sight. More like we saw each other across the room at a few parties and you kept giving me nosebleeds and I kept thinking that you weren't nearly as cool (literally & figuratively) as the small island on Hawaii that I'd spent years 1-7. It didn't help that it never rained that summer and it was hotter than I'd ever experienced.
Over the several years following you put me through some tests, as all good relationships do. A brief respite in the 'norms (NE Heights) followed by a long stretch in the far South Valley were trying times. I will admit that the mix of drugs, gangs, and drive-bys took a little getting used to. But there were many good moments, like hot summer days when I would wander down to the ditchbanks (call them acequias if you like) and hop into the muddy water. Or climbing the massive tangle of cottonwoods that seemed to grow forever higher into the sky.
Anyway, the nosebleeds eventually went away and I skipped your fine elementary and middle schools in favor of homeschooling, so there was plenty of exploring in my free time. High school was an improvement, and while I wouldn't say that I really dug your general disregard for water conservation & corrupt politics in the early '90s, you really got your stuff together by the time 2000 rolled around (well, at least with the water part of things).
A small stretch away at college in Wisconsin was just the ticket for making me miss the usual suspects: green chile, incredible sunsets, random house shows in some weirdly appropriate Victorian mansion, etc..
When I got back a couple of years ago you'd changed a little. Things I'd noticed happening before I left really picked up steam. An increased appreciation for galleries/public art, a dedication to beautifying the Downtown and Nob Hill neighborhoods, and an influx of more, how shall we say, hip residents. Contrary to some people I found the change refreshing. Appreciating where you are and celebrating the good makes sense, and while I'm not a fan of gentrification in one sense, as a fairly long time Duke City resident I'm not really worried about this thing getting out of control. Those who really dig it will stay and those who don't won't.
I find your fierce sense of independence friggin' sweet. You can make nice and dress up but your fists aren't far behind if the occasion requires. You always adhere to the idea that we're satellites in this lonely universe, but there's no reason why we can't connect up and share data/design solutions. You don't pretend you're something you're not, and even when you mess me up at least I know where I stand.
Although that's only a small portion of the things I could say, I hope it communicates my deep and abiding passion for you. This life is full of so many false promises and missteps, but you, my dear hometown city, are not.