– I feel like I am stuck here. And I cannot do anything about it, – that’s what this foreign guy living in Kyiv said to me.
– But “stuck” is probably not the best word to describe the way of life, is it? – I asked him.
What makes people love their city? What makes them smile? Laugh? What lights the sparks in their eyes? What are the criterions of a happy city? How does a city become home?
You cannot be stuck in your city
If your constant thought is only about escape, then you are in a wrong place. In “your” city you feel comfortable and happy. You can go for travel, but you will always long to come back. And “coming back” will be the most precious time of your trip.
You don’t have to be born in the city, to love it. A lot of people live in the cities from their birth, but these cities are still not “theirs”. They seek for other life, somebody finds it faster, somebody will search for the whole life. I am happy that I no longer have to search.
And if you ever say you are stuck in your city, remember, it’s just not yours. In YOUR city you LIVE.
– Ah you came for Napoleon cake? – asked the seller woman in a confectionary shop inside of a building I live
-Yes, right! – and at this moment I felt a big happiness inside, not guilty for buying cakes almost every evening instead of doing some workout.
Because this is a part of love to the city: having the shops where they know you came for exactly this thing, going to bars only to talk to barmen, and quit going to these bars when the barmen quit.
You make some habits like buying coffee at this, but not that spot, because there you can talk to a barista, and he would know you want coffee so strong that your heart will jump out of your chest.
– Can I have ham to my salami panini? – I asked the smiling guy at my favorite bakery spot
-Wouldn’t be too much for you? – he asked. But he remembered me and every next time I came, he was asking “ham and salami?” and I wanted to go there just for his jokes and small talk. I changed the bakery place as soon as he quit and got replaced by a grumpy seller.
We intuitively choose the places where we feel comfortable, we seek for understanding, for humain emotions, especially in a big city, where people’s feelings become more neglected due to a rush we live in.
Being alone with the city
It is okay to be alone in your city, because you always have the places to find peace with yourself, to think about something important for you.
Sometimes when I cannot fall asleep, I go to Botanical garden and watch sunrise. For a night or evening walk I go to Lavra. It might be already close, but I ask the security man to let me in. And I find peace in a place, where just some prayers around me and monks are walking.
I walk to get lost in the unknow streets, look into the backyards that lead to the other backyards, or simply stop and watch people on the balconies.
In your city you feel comfortable enough to be on your own, because YOUR city COMFORTS you.
Learning the city
I never stop exploring Kyiv. And I will tell you more, you do not have to be a guide to learn about your place. You just have to feel sincere interest. For example, when I worked in the office, I was so bored and sad of lack of walking, that every couple of days I was coming back home through new ways.
Learning the city seeds love in your heart, as places that seemed so casual to you, are appearing now full of charm and glory.
How much do you know about the street you live on? Your ignorance can kill something that is called love to the city.
I constantly learn, I read books, I watch videos, I search for old photos, I want to feel the past of the city as much as its modern life. Or I simply take my camera and go for a walk to explore a new place. And every time I am surprised and fascinated.
Being part of city life
Just living in one of the districts of your city and going for work does not mean being part of it. To be part of city life is to make an imput, to understand what feeds this city, what is inside its veins, it’s meeting locals, it’s working together on making things better, instead of complaining that you do not have something.
Cities are built by people who care.
And caring makes your part of its life. An active part, not just the one who goes with a flow.
Love grows from sharing love
The real love to Kyiv happened to me when I started showing it to other people. It was final year of Bachelor, we were working on our video projects, and I decided that my idea of telling about all the places I travel to is going to fail: I was coming back with no videos.
Then I decided: why not to show Kyiv to travelers? That was a moment when this blog you are reading now appeared. And then, in a while, I organized the first ever walking tour. I came back shining as a star, your newly washed car, you name it.
And I still feel it every time I do a walking tour. Every time I give my love to Kyiv to my guests, I feel that I love it even more. Love is growing constantly when I share it, when I see sparks of joy, love and gratitude in the eyes of people from all over the world. I look at my city every time differently, because every new person makes me discover something new.
Love is when I see the visitors of my tours coming back, when they bring their friends, families, and ask me to show around. Love to the city is when the people who were strangers just 3 hours ago, are sitting in a bar in front of you and sharing their most important revelations, like to an old friend.
And I feel more love to this city because I understand: If I did not make this walking tour to them, maybe we would never meet in this huge huge world.
Feeling it as a human
If anybody asks me, if it is possible to love the city as much as you love a person, I’d say: Yes! And I have this love!
You immediately feel “your” city. You feel that it wakes up at exactly your time, that it falls asleep at your time, and that it stays awake with you, when you cannot fall asleep, go out till morning or simply have lots of work.
When somebody ruins it, you want to protect it. When somebody loves it, you want them to love this city more, because it so much deserves it.
And as your love grows, you learn to love despite something. The scars of your city, its defects become something special. You want to heal the wounds that can be cured, but you feel the special charm of its flaws, that cannot be fixed. This is a moment when you love your city as parents who love its child. Unconditional love.
You are in a place you’re supposed to be
I have a favorite flight. It is “Frankfurt-Kyiv” that lands here at 1:25 at night. This is a flight when first in my life I saw night lights of my city from the plane. Everything was shining and I could easily recognize my favorite places while flying over the river. I leaned to the window and cried because of happiness. Now every new time I am flying with a layover, I try choose this flight for this exact time. And what is inside of my heart, when we are landing is hurricane of feelings.
I am landing in the most beautiful city on Earth. And I am in a place, where I am supposed to be.
You have no other choice than to fall in love with your city. If you cannot do it, then you have not found yours yet.