Admittedly, I haven’t seen that much of the world. Various family members in various cities, while earning me vague familiarity with those cities, have hardly earned stamps in my passport. I can claim brief interludes in their airports, but our acquaintance is only passing, a temporary sojourn. This is reality. I am not well-traveled.
So why do I feel like I am? Why do I feel like I know cities and their problems when I’ve never been to them?
People often claim familiarity with places based on the books they read. If you read enough books about a certain place, you begin to feel like you know it just as well as the people who call it home. Reading about these places creates the illusion of a connection, and we claim that illusion for better or for worse.
This isn’t necessarily a problem. Except that it is. It’s no secret that reality is often disappointing. When we go to these wonderful places with our high expectations and lofty ideals, we are, in a way, setting ourselves up for great disappointment. Cities are often dirtier in person than they are in our imaginations. Imagine that. And being in a remote location away from the “hustle and bustle of it all” can sometimes seem lonely instead of restorative.
The grass is always greener on the other side, so the saying goes. Perhaps this is why the place always seems to more appealing when presented in black and white on the pages of a book.