Posted by: Shanna Germain | 07/06/2009

Pg. 97: Big City Love Letter


The Edinburgh Castle at night, as seen from Prince Street.



  • Weather: Nice on Bute, Pouring in Glasgow, Hot as a mo-fo in Edinburgh. Wow. Good thing I know how to pack.
  • Mileage: Mostly through city streets, up train station stairs, over bridges.
  • Food: Hummus and naan at the Middle Eastern restaurant. Oh, hell yes!
  • Discovery: Edinburgh is a very, very cool city. I’m digging it.
  • Media: Flying Leap: Stories, Judy Budnitz
  • Worst Thing: Spent much of last evening in the throes of a furiously ferocious and violent reaction to the Doxycycline. Which basically means I hung out with the toilet for far too many hours. Equation of the day: Low-flow UK toilets + Projectile Vomiting = I’ve Had Better Evenings. Then I crashed for about six hours, only to wake up feeling like a rag doll that someone had pulled the stuffing out of and smacked against the wall six or a hundred times, just to be sure. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.
  • Best Thing: Sleeping for more than twelve hours and feeling WAY better when I woke up!
  • Word of the Day: Cleek. Picking up a sexual partner. The word “cleek” is originally a Scottish word for a hook or a crook.


Dear Big City,

Oh, how I’ve missed you in my life. Remember when we used to be good friends? How I would walk your sidewalks and bike your streets? How I would frequent your many coffee shops and eat at your fantastic and not-so-fantastic restaurants? The times when we’d take in a movie together, or go to the art museum? All those late-night dates when we’d hit the town, and drink and dance the night away. Or the sunny summer days when we’d people watch  — all the ages and attitudes and hair-cuts streaming by?

Oh, Big City, I know we had a bad break up. I know I was tired of your slick ways, your masses and multitudes, your never-ending polution and traffic. I know I threw up my hands at you in despair of your incessant need for Taco Bells and Burger Kings and Walmarts. I grew to despise your horns and sirens and drunken frat boys singing off-key love songs at 3 a.m. I said I wanted peace and quiet and a million small things you couldn’t offer me.

And then today, I came back to you. I walked among your masses and your garbage. I marveled at your high skyline until my neck ached. I stuffed myself to the gills with non-local food: hummus and naan and aubergine and fava beans and soy mochas and crepes.

I miss you, Big City. I miss you so so much. I miss your air-conditioned movie theaters with buttered popcorn and soda with ice. I miss your museums and your art galleries and the men who play fantastic guitars and croon on the streets. I ache for your postage stamp parks and your bike lanes. I miss your too-small sidewalks and the women in hot pants and those high-high heels that look like they hurt a whole bunch and the potholes that I almost always twist my ankle on and the hundred-percent chance I have of someone poking me in the eye with an umbrella on rainy days. I even miss the angels who guard the churches and the too-bright street lamps and the drunken men who carouse around every corner, cigarettes and insults tucked into the corners of their lips.

Listen, Big City, I don’t want anything permanent. I’m not ready to move back in. But I’d like to come and visit you once in a while, reminisce over old times with a bottle of wine and a foreign cigarette. Get so drunk in your borders that I have to spend the night, wake up and have coffee and crepes in bed.

So, what do you say, Big City? Can we be friends again? Maybe even friends with benefits? I know, I know… it’s a lot to ask. Take your time. Think about it. I’ll sit right here at the coffee shop on your corner, sipping my mocha, watching the world go by, just waiting and hoping. Hoping you’ll say yes.

Far and fast, s.


“When you look at a city, it’s like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it.” ~Hugh Newell Jacobsen



  1. What a fantastic essay/letter!

    Come on, Big City … give her a break! She’ll make it worth your while.

    • Hehehe. I will, I will, Big City, I promise!

      Thanks, Jeremy, for putting in a good word for me! 🙂

  2. lol..pretty pretty could big city resist from those candy coatet words???

    • Yes, do you hear Danielle, BC? Listen to him… he’s smart! 🙂

  3. Well, I can’t speak for Edinburgh. She’s all fur coat and no knickers, if you know what I mean.

    But Glasgow’s a cheap slut who’ll take anyone who wants her. All you have to do is buy her enough strong drink …

    ; )

    • Oh shit, A, that’s too true! I’m just so busy peeking under her coat that I barely noticed 🙂

  4. lol…beautiful…

    I’ve moved back to Sedona Have been here a little over a week. It seems like the right thing to do for now. But it is small and I miss Portland…

    • I was wondering how you were doing in Sedona… I still want to come and visit. But, yes, oddly, I miss Portland too 😦

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