Friday, 1 July 2011

Welsh Alien (no longer) in New York.

31st May 2011

I am at Heathrow arrivals with The Teenager, excess baggage, actual and emotional at our feet.

In the last day we have said goodbye to New York. I've embraced teary friends, sobbed at JFK over the luggage charges I couldn't pay, then ended up on the floor, open suitcases with knickers and photo frames strewn.

Oh. And Swansea got promoted to the premiership. That's a catastrophic 24 hours by anyone's standards.

I stare at the luggage carousel and memories of my last full day in NYC drift through my head: Memorial Day Sunday with Sara, her husband George and baby Ce Ce at The Frying Pan- a rickety boat bar on the Hudson River, packed with Fleet week sailors flirting with excitable New Jersey women. Crammed in on a tiny table in the direct beat of the blazing sun with a bucket of Coronas and plates piled with burgers and ribs, looking up at the summer skies.

Ce Ce-who I'd known since she was a bud in Sara's belly does her new thing: cocks her head to the side and bats her eyelashes. I melt because I don't even like babies, but I love this one. And she loves her Auntie Em. She doesn't know her Auntie Em won't be here tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. George prepares to take her home to bed and I think how she's not going to recognise me next time I'm back. The tears start. 

Sara and I stay on together alone to say our goodbyes. We walk off the boat and sit on a park bench overlooking the river and even though we don't smoke, we smoke a few cigarettes while watching the sienna sun melt into the horizon. New York's giving me the last flash of her stocking, teasing me, reminding me how alluring she can be when she wants. The tears come thick and fast.

“Ugh Gu Gu Ga gaaaaa Gu, Gu. Guuu” I gulp to Sara. She cries back, but in a far less ungainly manner.

“You're the bubbles in the champagne Emma Smith.”

I wail a thank you for that and for making me feel one of her family when the new one I had was crumbling. 

The next day at 14th Street and 8th Ave I meet Rhiannon-another Welsh woman in New York who opened up a whole new world of friends for me when I was so desperate to meet people. She brings Tiger the dog and her boyfriend Chris to the corner and everyone cries and hugs together. Except the dog, who pisses on the side of a kebab stall instead.

Leaving her is tough because she needs me as much as I've needed her. The hugs are really tight. The crying gets loud enough for New Yorkers to stop and stare. I thank her for showing me such a rare kindness of heart.

Later that day, as we haul our suitcases into the car service for the airport, we say goodbye to Laura and Harriet. They close the doors on a sobbing me and a much less emotional Teenager. Harriet crying her 9 year old heart out and Laura teary too. They helped us so much when we desperately needed it, allowing me to give New York my very best effort. I will always be in debt.

All of these woman and more saved me in New York. Strong, wonderful females who were there for me when It mattered. 


Back at Heathrow and bleary from the Red Eye flight, I stand at the carousel waiting for the four bags that hold all our possessions. For the second time in as many years I have packed our lives into several suitcases, giving away or selling furniture and stuff, so we can move back across the Atlantic.

Aside from those bags I have nothing. New York cleaned me out. No money, no job, a broken marriage and my dreams of life there truly over. Probably forever-certainly for now.

I loved NYC but I suspect she never really gave a shit about me. She is used to everyone adoring her, constantly flattered by the attentions of men and women. She took my heart and gave me back the smallest moments-just enough for me to cling onto, without ever committing.

New York mirrors your mood. When you're having a great day she loves you with passion and gives you all she can. When you're having a bad one, she kicks you in the bollocks. Every day you are writing your own New York film, with you as the star and the streets as your location. Your extras are all around you- the crazies preaching their messages, the homeless slumped on the church steps, the rich high above in their homes in the sky and the drunks spilling out of the Happy Hours.

All of life resides in NYC, all kinds of everything-The great American experiment in democracy that began and ended there. Everyone finds their own New York-there's a city for all. I've shared some of mine on this blog over the last two years.

For now though, I have to put my city away for another time. Because it wasn't our time. Not this time. So for now I blow her a kiss and hope she sleeps well.

Then I remember she doesn't sleep at all...

7th June.

I am in London and starting a new job in TV.

It's hard to take in. It all happened in a week. I am trying to process how everything has fallen into place since I came home to the UK. From the tiniest interaction to the big things that really matter. 

If the Universe gives you signs, it told me over and over to leave New York. It threw bad luck after unlucky co-incidence after so-crazy-you-couldn't-make-it-up stuff at me.

Now after two years and one week my slate is clean and the stress behind me. I stand looking at my new start, my blankness, my paper ready to be filled with words and life and experiences and I feel excited, a little scared and more positive than I have been in a long time.

I am now a Welsh Alien In London.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Message from: Ann Smith (Mother)

  Subject: No subject
  Date: 1st May

  Hello darling,

Just take extra care Emma because there will surely be reprisals from the killing of Osama bin Laden, mostly directed against America, the sooner you leave that country the better.

Love you both XX

We all know that when the end of the world comes it will start in New York, like it does in the movies.

Your WelshAlien will be stranded on the island of Manhattan, because all the bridges will be blown up and tunnels blocked by the U.S. government in order to contain the disaster area. I won't be rich enough to escape in a helicopter and the seaports will be manned by the Army. I will pause only briefly to be turned on by their big machine guns and then I will really wish I'd make that move to Brooklyn, which is at least on the mainland.

I would be rubbish in a disaster. I have zero survival skills. Aside from running, which I can do for about 15 minutes without stopping providing I have a good sport's bra to hand. I probably couldn't dodge danger at the same time though, I have an inability to multi-task and no sense of direction- I couldn't tell you where North is right now. Even though I live on a grid system. No clue.

How might the end of the world might actually come? On recent events, I think a terrorist attack is a good bet. Personally I would prefer a Zombie apocalypse, as I've watched enough undead movies to figure out how to slaughter them all.

What would you do at the end of the world, with 24 hours to live?

I would dedicate my last day on earth to hedonistic pleasure, involving sex, booze and copious amounts of illegal stuff (including looting Chanel). I would do all this while eating one of those normally prohibited Baskin' Robbins hot fudge sundaes that have 1400 calories in. I wouldn't spend it with my family, 'cos why would I want to spend my last day on earth being told where I'm going wrong with the short amount of life I have left?

As potential apocalypses go, Monday was certainly bizarre enough. It started at 5.30 a.m. with a call from the BBC in the UK about doing an interview into their phone-in show at 7.30 a.m. Despite the pre breakfast hour I think I managed to fake reasonable intelligence on the American reax to the Osama death. I said words and phrases like 'rhetoric', 'intrinsic', 'psyche' and 'homeland security' all of which tip anyone in the direction of sounding like they know what they're talking about.

Annoyed that Osama has stolen the thunder of one of Cardiff City's biggest ever games, I head to Nevada Smiths in the East Village. For possibly the second time this season, we have sound on the tele. This turns out to be a bad omen as we watch and listen to mid-table Middlesborough take us down 3-nil on home turf. The sole Barry contingent of the N.Y. Bluebirds make us drink tequila slammers afterwards. More than a few of them. Enough that I wince.

We then sit with some Norwich fans behind and watch as their team win 1-nil and take the second promotion spot. They whoop and jump and there are sporting handshakes from some of the N.Y. Bluebirds. I stomp off to the toilet in a huff. The loo inside flushes automatically and I feel a little Stella soaked tear welling up. Anything automatic is just upsetting now.

However, we are all Championship fans in a sea of Premiership supporters in NYC, so the Canaries and the Bluebirds fly together for celebration and commiseration drinks at Mcsorley's Ale House in the East Village. I drink Dark Ale, which has not happened since I was pregnant. It's an old bruiser of a pub with sawdust on the floor and makes me miss home a little bit. The Canaries offer us beer, we accept. When the bill comes though they make us split it, so I gob a bit on their cheese plate and vow never to go to Norwich, not matter how good the M&S might be.

We are down to three and we are now in a bar in Nolita. Cardiff City have thrown away automatic promotion. It's the end of the world. Osama is dead and the Muslim world will seek revenge. I am staring at a Gin and Tonic. It's time to go home. Really home. Oh Waayyyaaales. No one will ever bomb Wales.

Outside I met this man, who is wearing what is possibly the world's coolest t-shirt.

We talk about Osama and Obama and I tell him about Cardiff City. He tells me he is from 'Glamorganshire'. I tell him everyone wants to be Welsh, then I fall into a taxi with Claire from Newport and Paul from Blackwood.

As we whizz back uptown I close my eyes and think about Wales. The place where the daffodils are the true colour God intended. And Clark's pies rule. And terror threats are low. And Cardiff fans are many.

Nos Da New York.


Monday, 18 April 2011

Skiing in Manhattan


Mother arrived in New York at the start of this month, under the guise of being here for The Teenager's 17th birthday.

It's as if she has a press officer who spun this official reason.

As it turns out, the real agenda was to tell me (repeatedly) where I am going wrong in my life and to do vast amounts of skiing.

Not skiing on slopes. No, 'skiing' is a hilarious new acronym that Mother has picked up somewhere in the plethora of immigrant hating newspapers she reads. It means 'Spending the Kids Inheritance'. Isn't that fucking funny? Seriously. And I'll tell you when it's really, really amusing: when you're an only child and you watch helplessly as more of your money goes into the tills of New York's retailers and out of your future. That is sooooo hilarious!

Although being a Veteran Captainess of retail has it's advantages. It means Mother arrives with a ton of magazines and British chocolate, some perfectly picked Primark presents for The Teen and a few things for me. Nice to see she's remembered this is my big day too. Celebrating 17 whole years of single parenting in which I have not only managed to keep my offspring alive, but only moderately screwed her up.

I was imagining some kind of bravery medal fashioned from Dairy Milk for my pressie, but instead she brings me a top from Mango and some M&S knickers. A size bigger than I need. Always.

After the brief honeymoon ends (some point while we are still in the taxi from Newark) Mother releases her verbal stealth missiles. I need to slam a door in regressive reaction. The only one available is the taxi door though, which might not be advisable at 70 MPH through the Lincoln tunnel.

"Darling. I have to play bad cop with you darling, because no one else will."
"It's true Sweetheart. It's just 'cos I love you."

Mother and I are very different. She pours realism over Emmaworld and I don't like it one bit.

The Teenager's 17th birthday comes and it's such success she is spawning superlatives by lunchtime. It is a pretty cool day. We go up in a helicopter for a Manhattan tour and she gets mistaken for Kim Kardashian. It's hard to tell which she is more excited by.

Like the good and bad fairy from Wizard of Oz rolled into one, it seems as soon as Mum appears, she's gone- in a puff of something pricey she picked up at Sephora. It was a week, but it felt quick. Even though painful things are supposed to go slowly?

After crying that she was here, I am now crying that she is leaving. Her and The Teenager had even tired of picking on me. We have a lovely sushi meal on her last night and she doesn't even complain about the 20% tip.

When we are in the cab coming home she asks me if I ever had an imaginary friend when I was a child.

"Of course Mother, I was an only child. I had to hang out with someone."
"What was she called?"
"It was a he...and he was a cameraman...and he would film me being a TV reporter wherever I went."
"Oh you freak. Most people have a child imaginary friend. Now mine was called Rose."
"Yes and my Aunt insisted I lay her place one day at the table and I said no. I said: She's under the table, she's called Rose Munder and she doesn't like thunder. I thought that was rather clever!"

I always thought I was my Dad's daughter. Loud, opinionated, a people person and a bit leftfield.

Now I'm not so sure that Mum didn't have an awful lot to do with it.


Monday, 28 March 2011

I am Dragon...hear me whimper

Being a Welsh football fan in New York is a pretty exclusive club.

It's even more exclusive than being a NY Bluebird (current membership: six). On Saturday there are just four of us in Nevada Smiths at 11a.m. We might be small, but we've got passion, heart and all those Taffy cliches so we have a bash at the anthem:

"Eggy wogian or vreeeeeeeeee?"

The England fans are silent. I don't blame them, who wants to Save The Queen? So they've got 3 lions, but we've got a Dragon. Y Ddraig. It's a mythical creature that doesn't exist but if it did it would be harder than 3 lions, yeah?

Actually who would win a fight between a Dragon and 3 Lions? As I'm pondering this the game kicks off. "Would the Lions use their obvious advantage of numbers to overpower the Dragon?" Bellamy is having a scrap with Rooney one minute in. "Or would the Dragon pull out it's trump card of Fire breath?" Hmmm. England score. 6 mins in. My Stella is empty.

If the rest of the day was a film, this would be the bit where they do a sped up montage with screaming Indie music to imply the hedonistic abandonment. There would be pints spilling, bar tricks, shirt swapping, fags smoked, an onslaught of Nordics and me having a tantrum when the bar runs out of Salt & Vinegar Walkers. The montage would end up with me and Laura on the pavement at 6 p.m and me remembering I have to be in a cocktail dress and at The Comedy Awards in an hour.

Then as the music is fading I would arrive home pissed to a pissed off Teenger, who isn't any less pissed off when I tell her she's being a Saffy and then Facebook and Tweet as such.

I manage to turn myself around with the help of some Red bull, a stern talking to myself in the mirror and light reflecting primer. Then we are in a cab on our way to The Hammerstein Ballroom.

Cue another montage with blurry celeb faces: Alec Bladwin, Tina Fey, Eddie Murphy, Will Farrell, the blokes from Hot Tub Time Machine.

After The Awards I inhale pizza from a place over the road and the cabs all appear to have fallen into a rabbit hole. It is cold. Really cold. I am not having fun anymore.

Sometime past midnight... it is rumoured that I fall over into a pothole outside Penn Station while hailing a cab.

No. That absolutely didn't happen. What also did not happen was that I cut my knee open through my tights and impaled a piece of gravel in my hand and that The Teenager had to pick me up and push me and my bleeding knee into a taxi.

Never. Happened.

Considering the fact these things never happened it is most strange that The Teenager is still barely speaking to me today.


Monday, 21 March 2011

Springasm, Brooklyn

Last Thursday four separate strangers smiled at me in the street.

The only time this happens in New York is on the first day of spring. When it's suddenly pushing 70 degrees in mid March everyone leaves their cynicism at home and hits the streets with those smiles. Mother nature sprinkling a taste of sweet spring sugar into our open and ready mouths.

It came just in time-after an endless winter where I believed I may actually be living in Russia. I was spiralling head long into a chronic and debilitating case of S.A.D. the main symptom of which was watching illegally downloaded award season movies with a fleece blanket over my head while wearing pajamas with polar bears on.

On the day when spring prematurely sprung I was in Brooklyn, so it's hard to tell if I would have got less stranger smiles if I had been in Manhattan.  I was there to meet The Teenager, who's doing a once weekly internship at an independent jewelery maker in Williamsburg. It's an area I hadn't made it to until now and when I arrive I am kicking myself for not coming sooner.  I get off the L train at Bedford Avenue and step out of the station. It's instant: I'm in love. Love, love, love.  At first sight.

"Well hello there." I say.
The streets smile back too and we're flirt with each other straight off the bat.

I know. Williamsburg. It sounds like a bit of a New York cliche. I'm years late with this one. Does that matter?  I don't think so. Don't we find people and places at the exact time we're supposed to?

I meet The Teen for lunch and we eat in the garden of Aurora. The sun comes through the trees and throws a dappled light on the courtyard. It's a bit blissful say what.

Afterwards I stroll around, get lost, people watch for a while on a stoop, get even more lost and then sit on a bench watch some locals playing basketball in the park and coo over loads of cute doggies.

I feel the sun on my cheeks, warm. This is a place I could call home. I can see myself slotting into life there and being happy. It's likely no co-incidence that the day I come here the place is bathed in it's most flattering light.

I get up to take some more pictures and have a massive Springasm.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Let *them* eat cake

You might imagine that living in New York you could escape the frenzied, vomit inducing, Daily Mail sponsored build up to the Royal wedding.

Will Kate be donning a British made Wonderbra for her wedding night? What will Diana be wearing on her cloud in heaven? Will the cake be fashioned from Charles' Dutchy Organics biscuits?

I was forgetting the fact The Americans-even jaded New Yorkers-really love the Royal Family. They are shocked when you express your hatred of them. It's like saying you want to incinerate puppies and kittens and babies and eat their charred remains.

My favourite NY pooch Tiger. I shan't be eating him.
When you're a Welsh Alien in New York it means you are constantly being asked about Diana, "The Princess of Wales". Questions like: Did I know her?/Was she a relative?/Where was she from in Wales?

To which I reply: "She was a posh London Sloane. She had nothing to do with Wales."
American: "But she was married to the Prince of Wales!"
Me: "He has nothing to do with Wales either."
American: *bemused face*
Me: "What do want me to tell you? That the pair of them like a pie and a pint at Ninian Park?"
American: *utterly lost face*

Probably not.

And we're back to The Daily Mail. Only ever a guilty click away. The internet version of Crystal Meth: you know it's bad for you, will make you ugly and knarled, but it's easy to get hold of and highly addictive.

Today they had an article about Kate Middleton buying Haribo Sweets, specifically Tangfastic and Starmix. "...which contain 906 calories per 275g bag." (makes me think twice about hoofing 2 packets when I'm hormonal). Shopkeeper Hash Shingadia told the paper that groom William loves a mint Vienetta. "...and Doritos crisps and Tropicana orange juice."

(Miraculously The Daily Fail just managed to write about an Asian without connecting them to a terrorist bombing or immigration quotas.)

Kate's big day is only weeks away and at least being in the U.S. I will escape the patronising indignity of being given the day off work. The Royal aides with their assumption that the entire country thinks of this as their big day too and wants to line the streets and wave our pauper rags in deference.

However, if you are a Royal loving expat, then two NY Brit organisations here in New York have just announced their big whopping Royal wedding celebrations. Big Apple Brits, my blogging partners are teaming up with the event at the Brooklyn Bridge where the day's kicking off at 5a.m. Then the newly formed George are holding a fundraising ball near Times Square.

I love a good bash, so I will be throwing my own: a principle party for all of the expats who hate The Windsors too. It will cost you nothing, unlike your tax paying non optional support of The Royals.

I may even throw in some Haribo.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Taxi for Smith

I'm in a cab heading for new British bff's birthday meal.

On the seat next to me is a beautifully boxed but crap present. I am going for the theory that when cash is low, creativity or humour should prevail. Being as my latest job sucked all the energy and creativity out of me- I went for the laughs and bought her a plastic cow that shits sweets. And Moos.

The cabbie is belting down 23rd street like he's in Grand Theft Auto.

"Moooooooooo." says the cow from inside the box.

The driver looks at me suspiciously in the rear view mirror.

"Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo." says the cow.
"It's a present!" I say.
"Excuse me?"
"A present, the moo. It's a cow."
"It's coming from the box. It's a plastic cow. It's moo-ing a lot. It wasn't supposed to start moo-ing until I took the tab out, but is it."

He narrows his eyes at me in the rear view mirror.

"It's PreMOOture ejaculation."

The joke falls flat on the floor, along with the rest of my oft misunderstood humour here. Is it any wonder I keep making friends with my own people?

I launch into a huge explanation. About lack of cash. About it being a joke. About it shitting sweets. Except I say "Poops Candy" so he at least gets that bit.

"I don't understand?" he says "Why a lady like you would buy such a present?"
"It's a joke."
"I still don't understand." he says
"I know you don't. It's o.k."

The taxi jerks violently as it dodges another, accelerating past the Flatiron building and swerving a kamikaze left onto 5th Avenue.

"Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo." says the cow.

I couldn't agree more.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

You're not in New York now...

I spend a lot of my time in New York drawing imaginary maps of the UK in the air in order to explain where Wales is. 

After ten minutes of my hand flailing the usual response is "So what part of London is that in?"

Geography is not a strong suit of the average American and is it any wonder when new stats show that despite a huge rise, only 30% of citizens hold a U.S. passport?

In their defence, there is a lot going on in their homeland. If you're a Californian you don't don't even need to leave the state to ski powdery slopes, sunbathe golden beaches or see breathtaking mountains.

And if you live in NYC it's like residing in a vacuum. It's not like the rest of America, if it wasn't for George Washington in your wallet, you might forget you're even living in the U.S. There are many reasons never to leave. Stay here for too long and you become confused when people in other cities tell you they don't have 24 hour food delivery and Drag Queen bingo.

I rarely leave New York myself. Not out of choice, more out of a lack of Benjamins in my wallet (Oh freelance!). So you can only imagine my squeely joy recently when I was invited on a press trip to the Florida Keys. I threw my Hunters in the cupboard, dragged my summer clothes from under the bed and spent much time debating whether my main hot weather look should be "Out of Africa" or "Nautical meets Chanel cruise wear".

Then in the depths of the January sleet I left my apartment in NYC at 6 a.m. in five layers. I flew South for less than 3 hours and shed clothes on the plane as I went. By the time we reached Miami airport I had changed into flip flops, sunnies and a floaty dress. I was still in the same country but now it was 82 degrees and men were wearing Hawaiian shirts.

You know that line "You're not in New York now."? The one that always gets churned out in Rom Coms where the Louboutined heroine is forced to move to Hicksville and is astonished to discover there's no Prada and the restaurants shut at 9p.m? Well that was what was in my head. Although it barely mattered by dinnertime when I was eating fresh seafood under a palm tree.

6 days, a lot more seafood and a minor sunburn later and I came back to NYC and one of the worst snowstorms in 300 million years. 20 inches of the stuff. So thick it made the trees look like they were growing cotton.

Florida feels like it never happened. Florida didn't. It couldn't have. Except there are 182 pictures on my digital camera that say it did.

So to remind me- and extend the very last dregs of my bragging rights- here are just a few of them...

My food travelogue piece on the Florida Keys will be published in the NY Metro newspaper.


Monday, 24 January 2011

Rubbish return

I left NYC for a month and by the looks of things on my return, she couldn't care less.

As our yellow cab whizzes down fifth, I notice that the city looks decidedly shittier than normal. She's made no effort for my return, quite the opposite in fact.

I turn to the Teenager:

"Is it me, or is there a lot more trash than normal everywhere?"
"For god's sake Mother, it's rubbish."
"Yes, alright. But am I imagining it?"
"It's always dirty here."
"Yes, but there's piles of garbage everywhere."

Piles of snow too. Drifts that have been pushed to the side by ploughs and have now frozen, mini mush mountains on the side of the pavements.  Long since white, now stained with the footprints of thousands of New Yorkers, yellow dog piss and discarded coffee.

I chose the coldest December on record to go back, so snow had already dominated my trip back home to Britain. It was all over the UK, but the majority of it was in South Wales. The weather meant nothing worked, or rather- nothing worked even worse than normal-which is worse than I remembered.

Public transport, which I was forced to take a lot-was hit hardest and there was more of it during my trip home than any one person should have to endure. After my flight from NY to London I bused it to Cardiff on a National express coach that took 4 hours to go 150 miles down the M4 but It felt more like 150 hours to go 4 miles, due to the selfish pensioners in front of me who put their seats back for the entire journey and pretended to be asleep. This halved my leg room and I prepared to be the world's first coach DVT victim.

While in Cardiff I was forced onto buses after my Mother insured her car with Age Concern, therefore excluding anyone under 50 being added as a driver.  When I complained she said "Don't worry darling, just 14 years to go." Then she waxed lyrical about the joys of Cardiff bus' Day To Go where you get unlimited travel for just £3 a day.

After a week of trying to see friends and run errands on the blue rinse bus I headed off to London, where at least public transport runs more than twice an hour. This meant a train journey back in the same direction as I had come, which clearly messed with the universe, because the buffet car's coffee machine broke and Pam of Great Western suggested instant instead, causing me to shudder all the way back to my seat.

While in London there was a lot of tubes to take while carrying lots of bags. I developed an ingrowing toenail, a condition that is so painful it rules out me seeing the funny side, either then or now. It also pretty much rules out walking more than 20 yards. And dancing. And the heels I had packed for dancing. And walking in snow. And wearing wellies that would help me walk in the snow. So of course then it snowed and nothing worked again. Not my feet or London transport. Except the black cabs, but efficiency costs-£50 for two rides to be exact.

After month in the UK, I was ready to come back to NYC, any longer and I would have started to get used to it all. To accept terrible service.  I would have switched coffee for tea. I would have started to understand what was going on in Corrie again. Another week of Cadbury's on tap and my arse would have been 10 pounds fatter.

A few weeks into January and I read that the reason for all the rubbish is that the city was too busy ploughing the snow to take the bin bags away. I'm not sure what they've been doing since though. Now the pavements have even bigger snow mountains, created where it's fallen again onto the uncollected rubbish. Atop them lie discarded Christmas trees, making giant mounds of discarded festivities.

It's nice to know that New York city is not always that efficient either. It's nice when this overachieving city shows some vulnerability. Miss Perfect screwing up makes us all feel better. 

The difference between America and the UK is that Blighty just doesn't care. It's unapologetically inefficient. Take it or leave it. It's a rebel country without a cause. It's lion's roar is broken and it's no idea when it will be fixed.

Oh how I love you, beautifully broken Britain.

And that is why sometimes my heart is not always where my home is.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Hometown story

Tomorrow I return to Wales for the first time since I arrived in New York.

Today I walk along 5th Avenue with the sun shining so bright it's like the second coming of Christ. A perfect NYC winter's day, everyone bundled up against woollen things and over sized sunglasses.

I think about the last 16 months. Where I am now, where I was when I arrived in September 2009. Am I a different me now? Adele's Hometown Glory comes on my ipod, like it always seems to lately "...I ain't lost, just wandering...'round my hometown."

A giraffe-like woman stalks past me in a fake fur, alien looking, make-up free, legs that threaten to break from their skinniness. Model spot. I pass a line of food trucks, Manhattanites lining up to make their weekend hangovers betters with carbs and coffee. On my right a homeless couple have made their own pied-de-terre on the sidewalk from boxes they have broken up underneath some elegant Christmas lights. A temporary house of cardboard with their own Christmas star above.

I feel it. A little pull at the thought of leaving New York. A city of flawed beauty-broken, ugly, imperfect, yet unmatchable. I love NYC the right way now. Not the romance I had when I first started visiting in 2006, where I only saw the good in her, but the way I feel now. Based on accepting her for all she is and all she is not.

New York is a tough one to love. She gives only when you do. She mirrors your state of mind. When you bounce onto the streets, they are energised and pulse with life. When you walk shoulders hunched the city is depressing and dank and lonely.

I board a plane tomorrow at 8 a.m. and I have butterflies of excitement at the thought of going back to Cardiff. Not because it means escaping what is not perfect about my life in NYC, but because of the people I have there. People I have loved, some of them for my whole life.

And just at this time I realise I have found my feet in New York. I was always told it would take time. Everyone forgot to mention it also takes friends. Just like Cardiff, I found my corner of this city and I am not alone in it. 

If home is where people I love are, then I guess have two now.

And for that I feel blessed.


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