The Gryphon suggested I start with the file on my C drive that contains copies of things from a previous computer. Basically, if I haven't felt the need to move them over into "My Documents" yet, they should either be considered trash or saved onto DVD archives. There are also, I'm finding, miscellaneous program files that are obviously not being used.
In the "My Documents" folder I discovered a little bit of comic gold in an unlikely place. The file is labeled simply "Analysis," and I wrote it in 2001, shortly after moving to Philadelphia. I was not yet keeping a daily blog, and I'm no longer sure why I wrote it. But if I had found it before I'd put my book together (The Art of Life, a book of columns and essays), I would have included it. The only thing it needs is a better ending.
It's hard to believe that it's been over 10 months since I moved from small-town Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. In those months, I've figured out some of the main differences between small town life and the city.
To begin with, in the city you get to sleep on the way to work. I don't mean in a traffic jam. In the city, there's public transportation, so while the driver worries about getting you to work, you can sleep until 15th Street.
In a small town there is no public transport, but everyone goes to bed by seven, so you shouldn't need extra sleep.
In the city, it takes an hour to get anywhere. In a small town, it takes 15 minutes. It doesn't matter if you're only going half a mile; with the city's stoplights and traffic, it will take an hour. In a small town, you can drive 100 miles in 15 minutes. As long as you don't hit a cow.
In the city, you can walk down the street singing loud, crazy songs with your friends and no one will notice. In a small town, people will notice, and they will tell your mom.
It doesn't matter if you're 31; in a small town your older neighbors will always see you as the tow-headed tomboy who tried to sell them pine-cones once. In the city, or at least in the City of Brotherly Love, strangers share boisterous conversations with you in the checkout line. They will never know you cut off all your bangs before your kindergarten photo, unless you tell them.
In the city, you can catch B.B. King in a venue so small the "nosebleed seats" are five rows back. Or you can stay up until 2 grooving at a jazz club. In a small town, you're lucky if the junior college gets The Hooters. The only thing open at 2 a.m. is the convenience store.
In a small town everybody is afraid of the city. In the city, people are afraid of small towns.
City faces are a rainbow of interesting shades and shapes. Small town faces are all the same. That's because many of them are related. They have lived there for six generations, and when you dig out photos of the town's founders, they look like your neighbors. In a city, the founders wore powdered wigs. Or, if you live out West, buckskins.
In the city, people read the Bible quietly on the train. In a small town, they read it loudly in the public square. That is Bible Frank, and he's been doing that for 20 years. Nobody knows what to do about him, so they just let him be. Every year, a cub reporter writes a story about him.
Reporters only stay in a small town for a short while, because big news is when there's construction on Main Street. In the city, it would be news if there weren't.
In the city, you can buy anything you want, at a discount, if you're willing to spend the day shopping at hidden bargain bins. In a small town, you can buy anything at a discount at Wal-Mart. People do their Christmas shopping there.
Even files with boring names can be worth reading.