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Live, laugh and love

Clairity's picture


     This is a part of the photo series Follow me, taken by a Russian photographer Murad Osmann. Travelling around the world with his girlfriend Nataly Zakharova, he  documented their trips by taking photos in which Nataly always holds his hand, leading the way. In retrospect, this is just like the relationship between me and the city. I feel like we're holding hands whenever I walk on the streets and alleys of the city. I lead the way, but the city is always behind me, following closely. I've lived, laughed and loved in the city. Here is my home.

     "City creates the theater and is the theater", as Lewis Mumford writes in What Is a City. We all live in a city theater. We perform our lives and dramas here. However, this is not just a theater for fictional plays. This is also our real-life stage.

     I was born in Changsha, a city in the south of China. Although not as big as Beijing or Hongkong, it's always my home sweet home. We used to live in a three-storey house when I was young, where I could raise my rabbits and puppies, where I could ran up and down the stairs, playing games with friends. I missed these old days when we had a whole building all to ourselves. Inevitably, however, cities develop all the time. We had to move to an apartment in a huge building with twenty storeys. Now, we're using the elevator rather than stairs to go home. I can't have dogs or rabbits anymore, because it would be extremely smelly and dirty in the apartment. But smaller apartment has its merits. I feel closer to my family in such a tight space.

     I'm fond of the city people around me. We are self-disciplined, responsible and professional. This is a group of people who have a sense of superiority. This sense of superiority is not condescending. It's just a self-recognition that we deserve, inherent in our blood, given by the city.  

     Dramas happen in the city every day. That's why we love the cities. We might like a few days away from the noise and chaos once in a while, taking a break in the peaceful countryside. But the countryside is only a rebound for us. Living there too long will be dull and insipid. We want to come back to the city and embrace our dramas. Now that I'm in Bryn Mawr, sometimes I kind of miss the city, where I could get everything within a step away.

     I've lived in the city, my hometown. I've witnessed the changes and evolvement of my city. I've watched our old house torn down by the government and fancy new mall built on it. I've seen small alleys transformed into widely eight-lane roads. I've noticed that people began to drive cars rather than riding bicycles...

     However, changes actually make life more exciting and entertaining. They provide me a chance to see novel and advanced things that completely overthrow my original thoughts. They offer me an opportunity to experience progresses that lead to brand new visions. They help broaden my horizon as the city progresses. That's what city does. It gives people more space to imagine, to create, and to perform freely in the city theater of their lives.

     I've laughed in the city, my primary playground. I'm a happy girl who appreciate little things in life. Smiling and laughing make my day. The city is where I have fun and enjoy lives, where I go to climb Yuelu Mountain every other weekend with my family, where I sing karaoke and have special dinners with my friends on vacation, where I realize the process of learning is supposed to be interesting and delightful, and where I go up to the top of our school building with my classmates, talking about everything while admiring the splendid view of sky. I've spent my last eighteen years laughing and smiling in almost every corner of the city. The city has my footprints, but also my "laughprints".

     Still, laugh is not enough to describe my connections with the city.

     I've loved in the city, my root. I'm raised by the city, by our mother river Xiangjiang, by those kind people who walked with me during my growth, and most importantly, by my dear family and loving friends. Here is where love starts, spreads and flourishes. As if a tree, the city plants its roots here. The roots dig into the ground, trying to cover everywhere in the city. The tree nourishes the people who are leading their lives here. It puts up a magnificent canopy for its children. Love stories happen here. Hearts are broken here. But the city watches quietly behind you, waiting to give you the support and comfort that no one could. All cities are connected. I feel renosance everytime I goes to another city.

     City and I are like best friends. We tell our deepest secrets to one another.    

     City and I are like couples. As soul mates, we complete each other.

     City and I are like mother and daughter. She nurtures me tenderly, and I cherish her by warmth and gratitude.

     Live, laugh, love. The three magical words that start with "l" pretty much sum the exact essence of life. These are what I do with the city. This is where I harvest the beautiful memories with the city.