On Moving To New York.
It’s Oct 9th 2014. Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today. After five years of coming and in my ongoing quest to figure out exactly where ‘home’ is (dear God do not say the heart), I decided to move to the U.S. to be with my family. New York New York. The big apple. The bright lights of the city that doesn’t sleep.
For the last five years, I had spent most of my time between Leeds and the U.S., as well as a few weekends in London where I grew up, and a year abroad in Spain thrown in for good measure. The truth is, after a few years of trying to ‘adult’ and making a mess of things, there was really nowhere else for me to go. Home for me has always meant the place where my past meets my future. I wasn’t looking for a fresh start or clean slate so much as somewhere that I could reflect, recharge, and recover. There’s a lot of misconceptions about travelling and starting over, but I have moved around enough to know that some things (usually the things you are trying to leave behind) have a way of reclining their seat into you just as you’re getting ready to take off into your new life.
In the 12 months before this, I had gradually been collecting all of my belongings from various homes of relatives around the country, and finally graduated. This move home was the closest I had come to staying in one place without a fixed end date in sight since I was 18. Granted my situation is slightly different than most, but just the thought that I was going to settle in one place was terrifyingly unsettling. That place was New Jersey. Close to New York but not quite New York at all. What have I done?
A few days after arriving, I was in a swanky club in Chelsea after having made my way from the rooftop bar at my hotel. It all sounds so glamorous and exciting! Starting fresh in a new place and walking out of my life as a student onto the cobbled streets of Chelsea littered with drunk models and socialites. I was half their height and double their weight but there I was out in the real world, really doing this.
Within ten minutes of arriving, I had a couple of men take it upon themselves to let me know they had a table and bottle service. I got the impression that I was supposed to be impressed by this, but I was still recovering from the amount I had just paid for a SINGLE gin and tonic. The price was high enough for me to forget about acting blasé and double check that the bartender heard my order correctly over the sound of David Guetta resonating through my skull. “You know I said gin and tonic? Just a single, yeah? Not the bottle or anything. What brand is this? Does it come with magical powers?”
Bottle service, by the way, means that the music was interrupted every twenty minutes so that a woman could deliver an obnoxiously look-at–me-and-my-hot-friends-and-disposable-income sized CARDBOARD cake and sparklers to clusters of people fist pumping so hard it almost convinced me they were genuinely having fun. This luxury cost…probably the amount I earned from working the entire summer. I’m not judging though because most of my income went directly on sandwiches from the Pret A Manger next to my office. Still, for that price, I just don’t understand why people didn’t question why their cake wasn’t actually edible? Isn’t that the point of cake? Where am I?
I realized very quickly that these are the kind of places I have been avoiding for the past few years. It’s not my idea of fun. I didn’t feel young, hot or sexy by being there. I felt full on overpriced gin and uncomfortable by the fact that I stupidly wore a sheer top and my waistline was expanding by the minute. I was very definitely underwhelmed.
I know nights like this exist in London and this isn’t representative of New York but at the time, I couldn’t help compare this night with my last 24 hours in London. It’s funny how moving somewhere new, changing your scenery, or company in order to ‘start over’ or ‘start fresh’ actually just pulls old memories to the forefront more aggressively.
I spent my last night in the U.K. dancing and drinking with my best and closest friends, driving through South East London on the search for fried food and putting the world to rights until the early hours of the morning in a house that makes me feel like a teenager again. It was the perfect closing chapter to London, and to the U.K.
And well, if that last night, if London, feels like being at your own party, New York right now feels like standing against the wall awkwardly….at a party you’re not sure you were invited to in the first place.
But for the foreseeable future here I am. Hanging out against the wall, trying to figure out where ‘home’ is and waiting for those magical powers to kick in.