Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Beautiful Sunsets in Smog-Filled Cities

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Travel | 0 comments

Dropping the dreams of rural retirement

San Francisco, CA. Photos by author. 

There is no more beautiful landing than at night at the San Diego airport.
The disorderly lights of the toolbox skyline are a reminder of a city committed to intelligent urban planning.

This is possible because San Diego is a relatively new city. Older cities just grew organically, and there was no real planning, so to speak, and eventually, the city leaders just threw their hands in the air and shouted, “Screw it! We need housing!”

I don’t travel to many rural areas; if I do, I typically drive. So, I can’t say whether or not a landing in rural Ohio is as beautiful as landing in an impacted and overpopulated city. Overpopulation and overdevelopment make a town look gorgeous from the sky!

It is similar to the beauty of the sunset in Los Angeles; there are no brighter red, oranges, and yellow as in the city of angels. Of course, those colors are as vivid as a Lightroom filter because of the carbon emissions of daily Carmageddon.

So what if the city is drowning in smog? Have you seen those sunsets?

Similarly, those cities with their beautiful lights hide the chaotic energy of the projects, the low-income housing, the low square footage of the high-income housing, the inequalities, the energy all converging to make exciting art.

Ah, the energy!!

There is nothing like the energy of a city.

You might get infected by it just standing around it.
You don’t even have to jump in the mix. At times, just being close to it might make you feel energized.

Whenever we visit Kauai, my wife asks me if I’d ever move to an island and live there full-time. The answer is always a confident and resounding, “Hell no!”

So many people think that island life is what they are looking for. The solution to all of life’s qualms. The hideaway from people, from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and, in short, a refuge from their problems.

I saw a handful of my friends who moved to different islands of Hawaii because they were attracted to the island lifestyle. They all moved back within the year, unable to relax and overcome “island fever.”

When I talked to Howlies (White people) in Kauai who came from the mainland, their kids moved back to the main island when they came of age.

I was taking a surfing lesson on Poipu, and when I talked to my instructor, he told me how his son had moved to Seattle.


Talk about overcorrecting.

It rains so much in Seattle that you need to learn how to live with wet underwear for the rest of your life to live there. It is a great place to be for men, who, with age, lose all control over their bladder.

When I moved to Sonoma’s wine country, it took me a second to get used to it. I had come from living in University Town in San Diego, not too far from La Jolla. I could walk everywhere. I didn’t. But I could’ve.

Moving to Petaluma, a more suburban place, was an adjustment.

I live close to the city of San Francisco in Sonoma County. I’m about 40 miles from the city.

And in one day, I can always get my fix for urban life like I did these days, walking around Chinatown and taking pictures of murals and paintings in lobbies.

I don’t even go there as often, but knowing it is there gives me peace of mind. I can’t wait for my daughters to be older and show them the city, that grimy, dirty, crime-ridden, beautiful place.

I can’t wait to experience jumping on the red double-deckers, the Bart, the cable cars, or the ferry, sightseeing with the rest of the tourists, seeing with fresh eyes the painted ladies, the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, Chinatown, the de Young museum, the Japanese Garden, Lombard Street, the Exploratorium, Theater District, the ferry building, or do a food tour in North Beach.

As human beings, we often romanticize so many things.

We believe we would be happier when we could do nothing but the one thing we want to do.

We believe we could be happy away from the cities and in the forest’s quiet.

We believe we could be happy without people around us.

Painting by Taylor Smalls.

I’m sure I have many delusions, contradictions, hypocrisies, and blind spots. But this one is not one I have. I’m happy living in a community. I have no need to run away to nature.

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