The Solitude of a City

by - February 17, 2014


It's been a while since I've lived in a proper city. This evening provided an unexpected reminiscence when I found myself flying solo in downtown Auckland. 

It was a steamy day here in Aotearoa. The humid air mixed with the sounds of traffic and exhaust. For a moment, I was taken by the ghost of summers past, back to long days spent in Washington, DC, beating the pavement between Union Station and the Capitol. 

When the heat became too much, I stopped at a faux Moroccan bar and grill called the Casablanca. I ordered a pilsner to spite the heat and a Moroccan-style pizza. It wasn't a very memorable meal in all honesty. But my spot along the street was prime real estate for people watching. There was a fine breeze kicking between the buildings. 

Sipping my beer, I thought about the topics at the seminar I attended. Experts, mostly from New Zealand and Australia, gathered to discuss the plight of Indigenous peoples' access to justice. It was all rather depressing to hear their accounts of discrimination, and abuses of discretion despite the supposedly blind  nature of lady justice. 

Which is an important lesson really. If one is ever in need of a pick-me-up, seminars sponsored by the various U.N. Expert Mechanisms are not the solution. 

As I watched people and wondered about their lives, it struck me that the city can be a damn lonely place. Not a new thought. But an important one all the same.  

When I finished my meal, I paid the waitress and left, searching for colleagues and camaraderie. All told, I think cities are best defined as bastions of solitude comprised of thousands upon thousands of souls. 

Personally, I'd rather be at home with Gwyn and Clark. Our place isn't much. But it's never lonely. 

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