I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of city living.
It was overwhelming at first. I felt like Country Mouse. There was far too much noise, far too much happening at once. Too many people, too many cars, too many routes to learn and new supermarkets to navigate. (Sounds petty? Not at all - hustling two small children back six aisles in a crowded supermarket, fighting against the flow like a determined salmon in spawning season, is no easy feat. But I really did need more Parmesan.)
City dwellers seem to have refined the ability to Ignore Stuff. They know what is relevant, and what is superfluous, and can move about the streets noticing only what they need. But me? I was ridiculously overstimulated. My head was on a swivel, watching everything from the lowliest cockroach to a speeding bus. I reached the end of each day emotionally exhausted.
And I am used to seeing people I know on every corner. I had become a little too used to living in an idyllic neighbourhood cross between the Desperate Housewives and Stepford, but thankfully with less crime and fewer creepy robots. Here? I know nobody. As I walk the streets, I automatically scan the faces approaching for anyone I recognise. Anyone. At all. But I know no one. And when I reflexively smile at people, nobody smiles back.
I am working on my Ignore Stuff reflex. It's developing, I know, because now I can come back from a run calm, not frantic. I think of the ancient gums that line the local streets, the wrought iron work on the terrace houses, and that nice little dog at number nine. I am wilfully blind of the stinky old man I couldn't manoeuvre past, the piles of rubbish, and the busy roads I run down. And I've stopped looking for friends on every corner. But I can't stop the smiling. I won't! That's my little ray of sunshine, and I'm bringing it to the big smoke.