This city produced in me somewhat of a multiple personality thing. My life here consists of, massively simplifying, two modes: the worker and the tourist. The worker works 5 days a week till dusk, goes home and sleeps. The tourist is present the rest two days of the week, as well as on some rare weekday nights, and his preeminent occupation is walking around and “discovering” the city. For some reason those two modes are so distinctly different! On Friday I go to bed a worker, on Saturday I wake up a tourist, carrying a whole different agenda than the worker had just some 7-8 hours ago. On Sunday/Monday it’s vice versa – I go to bed as a tourist, but wake up as an auto-pilot type go-to-work zombie. The two modes hardly intersect and the switch between them is sudden. A true work hard – party hard mentality.

Advertisements

Of all the prerequisites of normal life in this city – shelter, food, money, etc. – peace of mind is the absolutely most important. Peace of mind is the only thing that keeps you human here. If you don’t have it – you’re a machine. New York overwhelms your brain wears down your body. You are just another one of those 19 mill. You come back from work and there is nothing you can possibly do any more – you’re worn out. And it’s only been Monday.. Hobbies? C’mon! You like painting? Well, I guess you will [never] catch up with it later.. This is how this city influences you. Living to pay your rent. However, if you manage to rest your mind, you might find yourself gaining yourself back; being able to think beyond. In New York getting peace of mind is crucial, if you want to make anything meaningful out of it all at all.

This city teaches you immunity.

There are a lot of people in this city, for those of you who didn’t know. When you come in, especially if you come from a small place somewhere in rural Virginia, you are delighted to feel people rubbing against your shoulders in the streets. ┬áThere are loads of them in Times Square and all too many in the subway. But at some point, the awe for the “City!” is replaced by horror. 19 mill.. Now how is that for a probability for anything? Pretty crushing, ain’t it? This city teaches you that you ARE NOT good enough. It states that clearly in your face, instead of a greeting. “Professionally, with all the cool kids from Columbias, Pratts and NYU’s readily available – you don’t stand a chance, boy”.

After a while, though, exactly the realization that you are just one of those 19 mill, many of whom ARE objectively better than you, you gain yourself back. You fall into your own tracks and get immune to virtually anything. All the gold loses its shine, all the trash does not matter any more, all the people are irrelevant. You stop paying attention to all the actors, models and celebrities; Empire State becomes a backdrop for your morning commuting rituals. You enter a mode where you just know that, yes, they all are here, too. All the things that drove you jealous, horrified, anxious, frustrated before do not matter any more. The trains change tracks on weekends – doesn’t matter, it’s New York. You sat by Jay Z in a restaurant yesterday night – well, happens. Gehry built a skyscraper next door – just another high-rise. Does not matter. Can be daunting if you are caught up in it, but is a great thing if you know what you are doing – makes you invincible to distractions. You know what you are doing and you just do what you do. A bubble of your own. Numbness of sorts. Concentration.

Try not to lose humanity. Try not to miss beauty. Try to live.

What is it about this city that keeps us so mesmerized?

And why is it so easy to forget where you are once you’ve been there for a bit? Not been, but lived rather. “Been” happens when you’ve traveled to a place, but never made it your home. “Lived” is when you did..

After a while even the view of Empire State becomes a wallpaper. Is it just me, or is it a common thing? I bet down in the Chinatown some have never seen the Empire State at all, and could not have cared less. At the same time, Donald Trump, I guess, does not think about the fact that he is in New York neither, except in some special cases.

So what is it in a city, in this particular one, that we are actually after?

It took me a long look at the panorama of the Midtown to remember that I am in city where everything happens. The stores I read about in the design magazines, sitting behind my desk at the office, are a couple of blocks away. Heck, I can actually see a couple of them from this window right here. Jay Z and De Niro have their apartments also just a couple of streets down the island. How do I know, Jay might be brushing his teeth in the very same moment that I am writing this!..

New York is not about the beauty. It’s never been. This city stinks, if you be true to yourself. But we’re still here.

It is about the ultimate urbanity of it – the (melting) Pot.

But how do you appreciate the City on a daily basis? Everyday life devours you and after a while, you might be anywhere – “a place with high buildings”.. New York seizes being New York and becomes… nothing really. Just becomes.. Home. I guess…