The invisible Mr. Letterman keeps it real

During my internship at O´Larry and Letterman I lived in the city like millions of other people. I was richer than many, poorer than most and still privileged. I was a post-grad. student from Europe trying to get in touch with  life in a way I had thought or judged not attainable back home, but really engaged in make-believe like so many European kids at that time.
In my well ordered home country, even in Berlin, where I had graduated from law school people did not easily get lost. I don´t doubt that, if one really tried, one could manage to loose oneself some way of other, but it would have cost a measurable effort and willpower to not be found and catalogued like any other specimen starting to drift in a welfare state.
New York  was different. The city was not going to cut me slack and neither did I expect it to. And yet, at any given time I felt that it was possible to just gently drift out into that good night without giving it much thought. It was quite the opposite: you had to remind yourself to keep swimming, to unfold some kind of will to stay afloat.
Especially at night, emerging from my file cabinet, really broom closet, and dusting off, I walked down the narrow hallway, briefly pausing in front of Mr. Letterman´s office with its gentle light behind the milk glass pane. Sometimes I thought I heard papers rustling. Sometimes there was a stillness as if Mr. Letterman – behind the door with the milk glass window – was listening to me listening to him. The stillness was gentle. I waited a moment and then continued on my way to the elevator.
The lobby at 10 pm was quiet, too. There were two doormen behind a mahagony reception desk. They would briefly say good night but they were not up for a chat with the European legal intern leaving late at night. There was a television set behind the desk running. I could recognize bits and pieces of the channels turned low in volume as CNN or ESPN without seeing the screen. I had no one to share this accomplishment with so I just quickly crossed the lobby. Stepping into the revolving door I was already anticipating the smells and sounds of 34th street.
There was a moment of absolute freedom of stepping out of that door. I knew it to be an illusion. But it was also real because it would have only depended on a change of heart, on a simple act of letting go to make it real.
That moment of freedom lasted until I crossed the street and looked up at the Empire State building beyond the next crossing of 5th Ave. Then I turned back and looked up the fassade of the building I had just left. I did this every night. And every night one light in the row of darkened windows of the sixth floor, like a shard of glass on the beach reflecting the sun, responded to the sparkling of its grand and beautiful neighbor, the Empire State building, and seemed to bid me a kind of good night that reconciled me with the idea of a common life and prevented me from drifting off into the night and set me back on track to my apartment though sometimes not for some hours. One light was all that was needed to break the spell.

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