Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Confused" Places

There are some places I visit that I can’t quite bring myself to define. I go and I am not sure what my expectations are. I am not even sure I can explain this, but … they’re a mish-mash of a bunch of things. It’s not that they don’t have personality – far be that from true, but … they offer it all and none of one specific thing at the same time …

Let me try to explain.

Take Charleston, SC for instance: when I go there I know I am going to see, I feel, I smell the past. In all its rusty and cobwebby presence. In The Market, I can hear the cries of the slaves and the arrogant laughter of the owners. I can hear the horseshoes hitting the cobblestone. I transport myself in this other time, when dresses were long, ladies were always escorted and gentlemen were still talking about The War, a game of cards and The Trade.

Burnsville, NC is quiet, and it’s like time there forgot to get recorded in some calendar. Any calendar. Old taverns with odd hours, old houses hosting anything from restaurants to libraries, and art stores. You get old Southern food and buy contemporary ceramic art, all in one stop. And one breath. You blink, and you’ve reached the end of the town. You hear “mountain talk”, which is not quite Southern, but very much its own dialect, but you’re wondering where it comes from?! You feel like you’re time travelling, but you’re standing still too …

I go to New York City and I am transported in the future, almost. Even the old (architecture) seems new and revamped, because of all the lights and the billboards! Because of all the steel around it. The old is buried under the new, I should say!

It’s a testimony of where all the “other cities” of the world want to look like in 20 years! But NYC is already there…Time is faster than thoughts, here. Faster than the wind. NYC in clothing style to me is like Microsoft in the computer world: you open the box, and it’s outdated! (thank you, Aa.!).

But then, there is Norfolk, VA. And even DC. And even Atlanta! There is the old, and the new, right besides each other … And they don’t hush each other up, but they don’t make a loud enough statement to claim the personality of the place either …

The Norfolk area is even more confusing, to me –for now. You get Suffolk, which is half old and quaint and small, and half – a cheesy, Suburban jungle that’s still hosting some fine many-a-land full of trailers, until they decide what they want to be.

In Norfolk – you get the high rises and the steel, you get the harbor, but it’s all …industrial looking and cold, right next to the old architecture and old streets as well. And then you go to VA Beach and you get cheesy-beachy- family style plastic modern hotels a la Myrtle Beach right along with age old lighthouses and shotgun houses made of rotten driftwood, it seems. And then there is Portsmouth – and what I have seen of it is like a whisper of Charleston or Savannah. All in the middle of that.

So, the whole area to me … is like a place that has not yet figured out what it wants to be. No, it’s not that’s it’s not grown up yet! It is! But it’s like one of those 60 year olds who is still in school and working part time at the library and part time at the video store, trying to figure out what they want to be. It’s surely interesting …

Judge for yourself: pictures from my last trip there are here.

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