Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Notes from Birmingham

It's a great city for walking around quietly, but maybe that's only when you're led by the hand by someone who knows it. There are traces of broken rules and neglect if you take a moment to notice: used needles, graffiti, broken windows looking like the smile of a drunkard whose teeth got knocked out in a bar fight.

If you're up for a wander, the canal is a good place to start. When you follow the water, it feels almost like an expedition. Even if you don't really know what you're supposed to discover, it feels exciting anyway.

The swans on the canal are convenient for filling silences. You could point at them and throw out the fun fact that you could get prosecuted for killing swans in the UK.

The houseboats are maybe the best inhabitants of the canal. It's nice to imagine having a permanent home but also the ability to go away at any given time.

There are a lot of pretty buildings in Birmingham, but the ugly buildings demand more attention. One of these ugly buildings is the library. Perhaps its a metaphor that means to say it's what's inside that counts. Or an exercise in not judging a book by its cover. It is the library, after all.

Birmingham is apparently not a great city for a young non-local woman to be walking around at night -- or so they say. When someone scolds you for going to a pub alone at 10 pm, take it as some twisted form of affection.

On the flipside, Birmingham is a great city for brutally honest conversations. 

The Victoria near Hill Street station is a pub that plays all the right songs at almost all the right times. Like when you walk in, for instance, or when someone you're waiting for does. You'll feel like someone is scoring the movie of your life, though the beer is there to remind you that you aren't that special. 

Birmingham is filled with a lot of lonely-looking people. At some point, you will be one of them. For some reason, in Birmingham, this is okay.

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