As the days get longer and temperatures rise, our cities are starting to seem much more appealing. We’ve regained the freedom to eat in the sun, leave the apartment without swaddling ourselves in layers and — most importantly — appreciate these places that we work so hard to live in. Whether your idea of a good time is the late night debauchery of a bar crawl, the weekend decadence of brunch or the ever-present potential for cultural consumption, city life has it all. It’s almost as if we challenge ourselves to have as much fun as possible to prove that we can keep up with these crazy places, that our struggles are worthwhile. The problem is we try so hard to maximize our entertainment that we forget to enjoy ourselves along the way.
During my years of pleasure seeking in various cities, I’ve often been guilty as charged. It was only a couple years ago that my idea of a good time with friends still meant being up as long as possible to get the most out each day. We’d gorge on late night meals at Denny’s after everything else was closed, wander the streets just for the sake of it, force down that extra pitcher of beer or struggle to stay awake for one more episode. It may have left us worse for wear the next morning, but those moments of blissful escape were always worth it. Yet the older I get, the more I’ve returned to simpler pleasures. These days, I often find the most enjoyment in activities that allow me to forget society’s expectations. Small moments like reading a book on the train to work, spending time with Katie or having coffee with friends put me more at ease than a night on the town ever could. I certainly haven’t lost the ability to go for it when the mood is right, but lately it’s felt less necessary. After a tough day/week/month/season, the best kind of fun is when you can just let go for a change.
Since we started putting together The Fun Issue, the importance of having an outlet to escape from city pressures has become even more obvious. This edition’s stories show that, more often than not, the simple pleasures are what keep us going. Whether that means watching planes over the Potomac in D.C., grocery shopping in Houston, eating doughnuts in Brooklyn, meeting new people in Nashville or running for miles in L.A., our writers felt most at ease in their various cities when they got to enjoy life on their own terms. After reading about our various experiences, strategies, successes and failures over these next two weeks we hope you’ll find the inspiration to do the same. When so many aspects of city life are about trying to prove that you belong, it’s nice when you can relax enough to realize that you finally do.