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As you age, there are many things you leave behind. Most are rational or even necessary. At my age, I get nostalgic about almost all of the memories that are left. Despite that, I choose to leave more than a few places and things behind that brought me much pleasure back in the day, but now make me sad if not angry.
I was 37 years old in 1986 the first time I went to Chicago. I was a first-year radiology resident after retraining from a career in pediatrics. None of the other residents had asked to be off for the NRSNA meeting, which had 40,000 participants and vendors, so I and two other residents decided to go. It was only a few weeks before the convention, so we had some trouble finding a place to stay. We ended up at the YMCA on Chicago Ave about seven blocks above the Michigan Mile. Before we left, another more experienced resident, gave us each a soap on a rope. As I recall, the rooms were $15 a night and only slightly overpriced.
Despite our trepidation, it was a fabulous five days, during which we visited many great museums, bars, and restaurants. I have been back to Chicago at least 30 times since. It seems to me that about five years ago, I decided that the city had become a place I no longer wanted to visit. The homeless panhandlers were everywhere and flash mobs were making headlines.
A similar thing happened concerning both San Francisco and New York. I gave up on San Francisco 10 years ago and left New York City for the last time three years ago. The decline in these cities is easy to see as an outsider or occasional tourist. The consistent indicator, for me, was the accumulation of trash on the streets. The trash is everywhere and the residents put up with it. I doubt if I will ever be back to these cities. I cherish the fond memories that have now been tarnished by sordid reality. Nothing I see in the news makes me think this is going to change.Published in