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I chalked my confusion up to one of the differences in perspective, like in the language.

The ideology of swinging between the extremes is baked into the psychology of the Ukrainian people, and everything here seems to function in the ways of the banya.The juxtapositions in Kyiv are manifold: people are either really hard on each other or very kind, the architecture beautiful or ugly, the smiles are wide and real, or faces rigid like stone, the women hot and the guys not (some exceptions here), people drink a lot or a little, service is excellent or terrible, people just get by or are rich (small middle class), the weather is post-apocalyptically dark or pleasantly uplifting….But these reasons alone weren’t enough to pull me away from my life in San Francisco; there was something more here—something functioning at a deeper, more visceral level that is difficult to explain….I came to Kyiv from Italy to visit some friends living here last summer.My intention was to spend a few days in the city, and then go on a long trip back to Rome, through Eastern Europe, via trains and buses.

During those two weeks, I never left a two-mile radius in the old city.

When I looked at Google Maps, the right bank was on the left and the left bank was on the right.

But when living in a foreign land, the gestation process takes its natural course; the answers come when the time is right from someone, or from a realization.

Leaning too far one way could bring the weight of the other side crashing down on top of it.

But enough of the cliché geopolitical ranting; let me try another way of explaining this place.

Standing in the geographic center of Europe is a city straddling the left and the right banks of the wide Dnipro River: Kyiv.