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.

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.

I observe, that for the majority of Americans New York is just as far away and is surrounded by approximately as much “mystery” and “unreachableness” as for us, Europeans. The only difference is that they actually live in the same country, where New York is situated, but that’s that. To get to places is relatively expensive and flying to NY from Roanoke is not substantially cheaper than from London. It’s interesting, especially with my “Estonian” (arguable, but partially true) mentality, to observe how big a country could be and how big can distances be within a single country. For a resident of Virginia, California is just as distant of a “land”, as Italy for an Estonian.