"Do you love her?"
"I miss the people..."
"But do you love her?"
"You realize that everyone outside of Warsaw calls it a whore, because it's been invaded multiple times?"
"A typical example of provincial envy towards all things metropolitan. So?"
"Yeah, in a way I do."
"Funny how I called it a "she". I..."
"Of course, this city IS a woman! Its symbol is a bare-breasted sword-carrying mermaid, for fuck's sakes! Haven't you seen my dad's car?"
"I am fully aware of that, but nonetheless..."
"You know its legend..."
"Yeah, I've heard it from you many times; I'm too tired to hear it again.... I can't even recall Moscow's respective legend right now....myself. Fucking embarrassing! I mean, I know it rests on seven hills, that it was founded by prince Dolgorukij, and that its first written mention dates back to 1147. Hails to Soviet-styled 5th grade history education! I even remember Tbilisi's myth better: a prince on a falcon hunt was impressed with hot springs in the area..."
"So you've told me."
"And what about the myth of Georgia's birth itself? About God...and, hahah, wine? When people..."
"Not again. Why are we talking about this?"
"I....miss...Moscow. A lot. A-fucking-lot. After my trip I didn't feel it until recently. I decided to give myself a break the other night and allowed myself two chapters of vanity reading - Mamleev's new novel, to be exact. Every time he mentioned locations I recently visited, I, all of a sudden, felt....not a lump in my throat, but more like....restless nostalgia...towards the city. Not culture, not childhood, but the city. I was even motivated enough to stay up beyond 2 am writing a postcard to a friend of mine, because Katerina is a "silly dumb-dumb" and refuses to use the internet."
"Weird. That only happens to me when I watch videos."
"Anyway, "Moskva" is a feminine pronoun in Russian, but I don't know if I'd call this city a "she". My love is not directed at a maternal figure: it's giant, wild, and, damn it - hectic as hell! All three of these I really dislike, yet I feel entirely comfortable there......Have you ever felt like you had to prove yourself to a city?"
"Almost four years, and it still seems like I need to prove myself to Toronto on a daily basis. My mother always talks of her three lives - Tbilisi, Moscow, Winnipeg. It occurred to me that I have three lives as well - Moscow, Winnipeg, and now - Toronto. This Babylon shares many standard metropolitan qualities with Moscow, yet it is only Moscow I can forgive. I don't feel like I need to prove myself to her...to it."
"Please don't get that "made in Moscow" tattoo..."
"Haha, the only one I'd ever consider if I were to desecrate my body in that way? That, or a large realistic back-piece portrait of my great-grandfather, huh?"
"Not "huh", but "ugh"!"
"You know, that popular higher-end crime novelist I always mention to you - Akunin? One of his series occurs in a contemporary setting and features...uhm, how should I put this, a descendant of his earlier personage, who happens to be my embodiment of (literary) male perfection..."
"...and who apparently moved to England around the time of the revolution. So this young Brit - Nicholas is quite in touch with his Russian roots and travels to Moscow only to find himself in various types of trouble. The first couple of novels contain lengthy descriptions of Nicholas' need to prove himself to the new city, which is not always welcoming in the least. Akunin just about personifies it, actually, but not quite. That'd be too simple."
"The Georgian dude, right?"
"Yeah, Akunin is his Japanese pseudonym. Hah, I just realized: he keeps referring to his character as "Magistr", because the guy has a Master's degree. As a felow "Magistr", I guess I view Toronto the way Nicholas does Moscow. But, in the back of his mind, Nicholas knows Moscow will accept him. It has to."