An Acute Sense of the Middle

She said she lived in the center of the valley surrounded by mountains. Protected from the world on all sides; her home the only world to really matter. She said she would never leave this place, and that it would be hard for outsiders to understand.

I live in the City, tiny by stature, large by density - so many people, as diverse and unhomogenic as can be found anywhere in the world. I walk streets full of people both native and not, faces and faces teeming with so many different stories, it could take decades to tell stories of just one of them. This city no borders; the world is drawn to it. Its life is the whole world's life; its people, a sample from the whole planet.

She said I could never understand living in a small town made smaller by mountain ranges and miles of surrounding empty roads. I can never understand having 10,000 neighbors, each one as close as the next "Hello".

This City is the greatest City in the world to learn about all lives lived, all ideas thought. You can't help but see something new, every day.

Her Small Town has two stoplights. By virtue of living there you have been accounted for. Everyone makes it into the local paper eventually.

This City has so many people. So many faces and thoughts. As hard as you may try, you may never feel so unique in this "world". Try as you might, you many never get see, but only glance. Never heard but only as a background hiss. Never felt but only appeased. Never understood, only pitied.

- You try as you might, living in the center of your own world. But there are so many little worlds in this City, so many little planets bumping into each other in a chaotic ballet. So many undiscovered. So many disheartened and broken. So many ready to accept this damage. This is the City of relief. Where trying is optional. The Center of Attention may fall on someone else. This is the City of orbiting people. They will follow the next big idea. The next brightest star. Their light has passed them by.

This is not true.


Maybe I am experiencing acute anxiety - a social disorder - a phobia - a deficiency in relating to other people.

Maybe this is true.

But I know this: the City is driving me crazy.

Maybe only me, maybe everyone who has stayed here too long.

I'm drowing in a sea of people.

I've never learned to swim.

The best I have been able to do is float.

Being taken where the current takes me.

Be it straight down the drain hole.

I can't see it. I can't see it. I can't see it. I can't see it. I can't see it. I can't see it. I can't see it. I can't see.

Standing in the center of my own world I can't see the middle of me.


By Don Bernal

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