|Concord, Ca. Mt. Diablo in the background. |
Ironically the number of people here who have actually read
my blog is closer to four.
The reason may strike you as strange, or possibly even stupid, but that number has seemed bigger in my mind, more real in many ways, because of its association.
There isn't really a ritual of manhood in most of U.S. culture. I couldn't tell you when I "grew up," and if you listen to my uncle Peter (the guy with heart disease at fifty telling people how they ought to live), I still haven't. I left Westwood, California where I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with four other guys who were all going to UCLA while I was working as a night security guard because it gave me the chance to get paid for eight hours of reading at a stretch. When a friend invited me up north to a little city called Concord, I jumped at the chance. (I was very unhappy in Westwood due to a crisis of faith I was having within Islam and U.S. Muslims' interpretation of it--but that's another story.)
Concord became the place I will always associate with young adulthood. I had my own apartment there. I had to give up the pittance pay of graveyard shift security, and even though I went from that to waiting tables, it was "real"er money than I had ever made. I got married there. I walked off a job that didn't respect me. I got promoted into a management position there. I (poorly) made a choice between a love interest and a friend, and faced the first of what would be real and lasting consequences for my mistakes. To this day I work right on the boarder of Concord and Pleasant Hill at the community college there. Concord looms large in my brain as a place of major significance.
It is a place where shit got real.
There was also this event. A strange sort of serendipitous event. I was playing Sim City on Play Station, and when I reached 100,000 population, my city demanded an airport. A couple of days later, I was driving along Marsh drive to pick up my girlfriend and I passed the city limits of Concord and saw the population sign. At that time I think it was around 110,000. Well, I thought about my game denizens demanding an airport at such a mere 100,000 population city and how stupid it was. Why, I thought, if that were accurate, Concord would have an airport. (I was still pretty new to the area.) But Concord was a little Podunk suburb that certainly didn't have any airport.
That's when I looked over to my right.
Anyone who knows the area is probably chuckling already. Marsh Road runs along the west side of Buchanan Airfield--Concord's airport. So I literally had the thought that Concord didn't have an airfield as I was turning to look at it. That always sat in my mind as one of those almost-a-sitcom joke moments. (Like when the characters talk about someone who's standing behind them or insist something doesn't exist that is in the shot with them.) And with it came the thought that Concord had reached some sort of "real" demarkation line as well. Concord had an airport. It was a "real" city.
Concord's shit just got real.
But the unintended side-effect of that moment and that video game and seeing the airport during the exact moment I was thinking that Concord didn't have an airport, is that I can't help looking at the population sign every time I drive into Concord. It's like how you always think of that one person when a certain song starts to play. So I have always been extremely conscious of the population of Concord. And with Concord being associated with so many "adulty" transitions in my life, it is hard not to have a soft spot for it. It's population feels like it's the first sized city that makes for a "real" city. For me, that number--124,000 currently--is intimately connected with a sort of "legitimate" size. In Concord boys become men and little towns grow up to be great big cities with airports. Concord is the demarcation line between fake and real.
I told you it was stupid.
So watching my pageviews go up into six figures and driving into school maybe once every couple of weeks, I started to put those two numbers together in my head. Getting as many pageviews as that city--the city where I became an adult--is kind of a bigger deal in my head than even the nice round number of 100,000. Getting to the point where I've had enough readers that every single person in that "really real" city has read my blog (at least by the numbers) is pretty damned cool.
Of course, as always, when I hit a milestone, I don't think of myself so much as my readers. Yeah, I know that of those 124,000 people, most have probably not stayed to read, but it still makes me very grateful for every one who has. You guys are absolutely amazing.