The Cities You Meet

It’s often hard to describe what cities are like when you don’t go to tourist attractions. The more I travel, the more I find myself comparing cities to people.

Paris is a well-groomed middle-aged gentleman you would see at a black-tie event. He tells you about his artistic talents and business prowess, and wants you to like him, but doesn’t make a half-decent effort to learn anything about you in return. His reputation precedes him. You can understand his charm but you feel let down.

London looks like Paris, but is more talkative and likable. He used to be the life of the party in his yester years; and if you ask him, he’d tell you he still is. You enjoy his company and would like to see him more, but you don’t think you can be close friends.

Amsterdam looks like London’s cousin, with a prettier face. He is more grounded and pragmatic — like the London you can hang out with on weekdays.

Prague is a wise old man you are used to seeing in your neighborhood, but not often at parties. You find him fascinating, but never get around to talking to him. You know that you would have an interesting conversation if you do — you find his eyes captivating. He looks like someone who wrote love poems in his prime.

San Francisco draws attention with his pretentious blue hair. You don’t really like him from a distance, but when you talk to him, you realize that there is a lot more to him than you think. You find him honest — he feels like someone you want to have a long, deep conversation with after a few beers over jazz.

Vancouver is San Francisco’s younger brother. They look alike, but don’t share the same traits. Vancouver is young, and is trying to find his place in the world. He doesn’t seem to have many talents, though. He gets a pep talk from San Francisco every once in a while, but it doesn’t work. He is fairly likable, overall.

New York is the guy everyone talks about, and you understand why when you meet him. He tries to read people, and adapts himself to become someone they would like. You find that impressive, but also a bit scary. He can appear to be overwhelming at times, specially if you’re not feeling particularly talkative that day.

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