Last weekend I went to a wedding. This was exciting for two reasons.
- I LOVE Weddings. I freely admit it and will not seek help. Whether I know the wedding party or just happen to pass them in the street (I haven’t yet begun my career as a Wedding Crasher) The Dress, flowers, hats, smiles and confetti make explode with joy. Although this list is superficial, it represents the greatest commitment two people can make to each other. Can you tell I’m a romantic yet?!
- Zoe and Jon were the first of our group of friends to get married. Not family friends or friends-of-friends but real, actual, proper friends.
Now, for all you serial wedding-goers out there, I’m sure there will come a time when I’m jaded by weddings, having to find a different dress for every summer weekend and moaning about spending money to see people I don’t like join an institution I don’t believe in. But for now, I love them. Weddings are like a lovely hot baths, you let them wash over you and smile inanely. And if you’re me you don’t want to get out of the bath, to be faced with the cold air of reality…Lest my perfect analogy be taken out of context (cue steep slope from sublime to ridiculous) DO NOT take your clothes off before a wedding. Unless it’s a nudist wedding.
As I’m driving to sunny Northampton, buzzing with the anticipation of seeing very dear friends that have been absent from my life for six months, I realise the journey to the wedding is also somewhat of a trip down Memory Lane. I am travelling the same roads as I did both to boarding school and university. This realisation brought back a torrent of memories (both good and bad) of those well-trodden paths.
Firstly, the dreaded Sunday night return to school after a lovely day at home. Like heaven and hell, home was warm, cozy and full of home-cooked food and adoring family. School on the other hand was usually cold, with culinary highlights such a enormous great pans of bland rice pudding and a load of girls that you liked or didn’t but had to live with regardless. Now, I’m being generous with the artistic license, I loved school for the most part, it just wasn’t home. I’m sure those of you who lived at home full-time might tell a different tale ;-)
And then later, driving back to uni from home, my excitement would mount and mount at the thought of new friends to have fun with, crap union nights to get tipsy at and maybe some intellectual betterment into the bargain.
In the space of ten years, I, and my feelings about making that journey have changed beyond recognition but it made me think about all the friends that I’ve met along the way. Some I’m still very close to, some are on different continents and some I’m out of contact with but I know we’ll always go back to the way we were.
So I guess I just want to say Thank You. To all the friends who are still in my life, I’m glad you are and I’m looking forward to the next howevermany years of path-treading with you.
My new address is as follows:
262 Taaffe Place
USA! USA! USA!
Please send me lovenotes, postcards, trinkets and bells. Something you’ve handled, chosen, made the effort to actually post to me. If you include your address I will always send something back.
And so, for the fourth time in seven months, I’ve packed everything I own into a van and moved across Brooklyn. Now I’m back where I started, keeping it real in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Honestly, Carroll Gardens was a little too perfect. Steph and I agreed it was the kind of neighborhood we wanted to be in five or ten years down the line, but for our lives right now it made no sense. We loved the beautiful bars and trees and the sounds of a school at the end of our street. We loved the overpriced coffee and our enormous eggshell room that faced south, so we could nap like cats in the Sunday afternoon haze. We loved Dave, of course. But we knew that’s not really what we needed.
So instead, I’ve found the classic New York loft share that I was determined to live in when we first arrived (so determined in fact that I failed to identify the warning signs of a certifiable sociopath). I now live with five diverse and funny people and I live with them in a fully furnished home. There’s three couches, a bike rack, a breakfast bar and a full set of champagne flutes. There’s ten years accumulation of random furniture and signs and ornaments. There’s a piano, and a record collection. There’s even a dog.
More importantly I live in a neighbourhood that is gentrifying, and not gentrified. There aren’t the rows of restaurants transplanted directly from Manhattan. There aren’t the impossibly well dressed children in their $300 strollers. Residents here own pitbulls, not French bulldogs. Bed-Stuy is headed that way, for sure. But for now, it feels a bit more authentic, a bit more honest. Kids like me walk the streets. And just like us, the neighbourhood is headed towards something new and exciting, and just like us it just isn’t sure what that is yet.
I just realised that today is the seven month anniversary of the day that I arrived in New York City. Happy anniversary Me. Some facts: in the past 213 days I’ve had five jobs, moved to four different houses, had the greatest meal of my life three times and twice gone to pet a small dog before realising that it was a rat. I’ve cried just once.
I have a photo of that day on the boat from New Jersey. I am gripping the rail on the top deck, knuckles whitened against the onslaught of air thrown off the New York bay. My hair is gale-whipped into a Tintin quiff; my windward eye shut tight, not quite able to take it all in. The hood I’m wearing has filled like a sail, tugging me back home to safety. But there’s a proud figure embodying hope and freedom in that photograph; the Statue of Liberty is in the background as well.
I started out with March 7th in mind: “Six months and then we’ll see” was the cry of comfort last September, as much as to myself as to friends and family. This seemed a manageable amount of time both to experience and to reassess. I was wrong on both counts. Even now, I am still not settled, I am still not stable, I am still not satisfied.
Even without my trusty sidekick, I can’t possibly consider the thought of going back now. The adventure, opportunity and possibility I smelt over the salty Atlantic air when I booked my plane ticket last March is still there; but the scent is stronger now and it’s everywhere. I can taste it in the roof of my mouth, and it forces it’s way into my lungs as much on April 7th as it did on September 7th. Despite this, there’s only so long that I can go on living here without Steph, so I’m doing everything I can to bring her back.
Now I could never attempt to make a comparison between these two great countries but there were a few things I missed when I was in NY. Here are just a few…
- Robinsons Lemon Squash. Not easy to come by (except in exchange for a kidney)
- Imperial. Sounds weird but I never got used to metric.
- Having a washing machine in my house. I mean having one IN THE BUILDING was a big deal in NY.
- Sausages that are actually made of pigs not chickens. And don’t cost an arm and a leg.
- The ease of grocery shopping. But which I mean you can go to one shop and get everything if you so wish.
- The NHS. Oh man. I cannot stress this enough.
If any other transplants (or anyone) have anything to add that they miss(ed) whilst away from home, please share!Thank you to everyone who bought us Yorkshire tea and digestives :-)
Our apologies if the blog has been lacking slightly of late, I have barely touched the ground since I got back and Max has been working 18 hour days. Don’t take it personally, we’ve hardly been communicating with each other, let alone you guys!
I’m back! And it feels very weird. Everything is so small here! The cars are small, the roads are small, the sleepy villages and their little cottages feel like miniature toys. Guess it’s gonna take me a while to get used to…
Once I’ve found my feet (and had a haircut!) I look forward to catching up with all of you in the PUB.
Yay! I’ve missed you dear friends. x