“‘Cause I’m a World Citizen, A World Citizen”
I am so broke.
I’ve just spent the last week traveling in three of the world’s most dynamic cities. LGA to LAX. Hwy-1 to San Francisco. SFO to JFK. It’s a sexy, saucy, succinct little trip around the world. I feel like a seasoned world traveler, and my envy over Em’s stay in São Paolo (another alpha city) is temporarily abated.
As I’m sitting on the jet that will return me to the glittering secrets of New York City, I wonder how I can be so rich, and feel so poor. I know for a fact that I have no money in the bank. Either bank. I learned this while standing in line at the Haight-Ashbury Amoeba Music store. I had pile of about 7 records and a couple of CD’s that came to a staggering total of $11.69.
“Can you swipe it again?”
“Try this one.”
Angry that I couldn’t spend the last tiny money I had of my own on a couple Miles Davis singles and some American Folk songs. I would have done it, if I could. So that’s how I know.
I have no idea how I’m going to pay my rent this month, but for now I have a cozy little apartment of my very own in Manhattan to come home to. I’m not sure what I’m going to eat, but I always eat well. I’m starving now, and can’t wait for the little bags of pretzels and orange juice. “Can I have two please?” I stick one in my pocket for emergencies.
There is a older Indian woman sitting across the aisle from me trying to shove an enormous bag that obviously won’t fit under her seat. Her husband is behind her, pulling neatly starched dress shirts out of his bag and tucking them in the seat pocket in order to make his bag smaller. When the stewardess comes to help them with the physics of it all, they hand her a letter written on a scrap of notebook paper.
“Oh okay!” she nods politely. “Ma’m” she asks the Korean woman sitting in the middle, “can you please let these two sit next to each other?” “They don’t speak English” she adds, a little too tenderly. The woman simply stares at her. The stewardess asks again, confused. An older man sittiing in front of them turns around and translates in Korean. I’m assuming he says “She wants to you to come sit up here because that man doesn’t speak English” because the woman gets up and moves seats with an absurdly confused look on her face.
I’m flying from San Franciso to New York. I’d assume a good quarter of the flight doesn’t really speak English. Well, the woman next to me has an annoyingly British accent, and she’s laughing. The woman next to her is flying with her family of eight and only speaks Spanish.
In Los Angeles, you could learn Spanish simply by shopping at Food 4 Less. In San Francisco, I was learning Cantonese on the BART. I know a place in New York where you can pay for your Pierogi with Euros. What is it about these cities that makes me feel so…present?
A global city (also called world city or sometimes alpha city or world center) is a city deemed to be an important node point in the global economic system. The concept comes from geography and urban studies and rests on the idea that globalization can be understood as largely created, facilitated and enacted in strategic geographic locales according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade.
The most complex of these entities is the “global city”, whereby the linkages binding a city have a direct and tangible effect on global affairs through socio-economic means.
So it’s money really. Money defines these places. Money creates them, Money moves them and grows them, but can Money own them? Is money crucial to enjoying them? Experiencing them? Loving them?
Feeling as poor and happy as I am, I want to say no. I ate the free Continental Breakfast at my hotel today, but the hotel wasn’t cheap, and neither was this flight that I bought last minute. I have riches unknown to most of mankind. I am amongst the richest in the world. What can I do with all this knowledge? My stomach rumbles and I hope to God there is something in my fridge when I get home.
Take off. I fall asleep and dream of Berlin, Buenos Aires, Barcelona. I see them all.
John. F Kennedy International Airport.
DAMN. I forget that the metro ride back to my apartment is not free. I need exactly $7.25 to get home. I look in my wallet for the last $4.00 I told my little sister to take out of my wallet for the toll across the San Mateo Bridge into South San Francisco. The money is still there. I love my sister. I then dig around in the bottom of my guitar case for a Metro Card I saw tucked in there from a few weeks back. I find it, and feed it to the machine. Check balance. $3.10.
Look! A quarter, there. Just laying on the ground at my feet. I pick it up, stick it in along with my last bit of cash, and smile. I’m going home 10 cents rich.
I live the life I love, and I love…