Monday, January 14, 2013

Ignoring Stuff. A city skill.

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.


  1. No, dont stop smiling at people, I do it all the time, its amazing how it shocks people...but when someone smiles back, its lovely.....

  2. Keep on smiling girl! The city will turn into your village later.

  3. If Sydney is bad, try London! Fortunately for me [a perennial grinner] Scotland's smaller cities don't treat me like an an escaped nutcase - mind you there's no one left in the psychiatric facilities these days as it's all 'care in the community', so I fit right in. you'll soon find familiar faces here, there and everywhere even if it's just the stinky old man. I bet he'd enjoy a big grin.

  4. We live in a tourist town and when we go for our walk on the beach every afternoon we always say "good day" to everyone. Often tourists will look at us as if to say "do I know you?" but then there will be a little glimmer of a smile, and they will walk away thinking what a lovely friendly place our little town is. :) Never stop smiling or greeting people.

  5. ignoring 'stuff' is what gets people (civilisation) into trouble. Cities need their micro-villages and people who will smile or open a door for someone, or put the neighbour's bin out.

    If you wanna spin people out, when you get new neighbours take them a loaf oa fresh baked bread, herbs from the garden and a list of what day is bin day/what time the postie and rubbish truck etc usually come. I didn't hear BOO from those neighbours until they moved out lol

    And not all city people can deal with 'stuff'. I live here unfortunately and will be for a while but I am country/bush at heart and I NEED to get out. you won't be the only one ;)


  6. Smiling is healthy and eventually others/some will smile back at you. I live in a heavily populated area of s.e. FL usa, on a busy 4 lane road. When I'm out working on sidewalk side of our privacy hedgerow there is always someone passing by on the sidewalk. I usually smile and say hi, sometimes people will respond and sometimes they don't. We can't stop being who we are, so keep smiling and enjoying your new life in the city.

    Thank you for your kind email. It means a lot to me.

    FlowerLady Lorraine