Monday, 26 April 2010

Forever Friends

So I  have a confession to make: on this side of the pond I am a bit of a Billy-no-mates.

I say 'bit' because I have some friends, but not many and the ones I do have are all British, which sort of feels like cheating, as if I brought them with me in my suitcase. I haven't made one American friend since I got here-unless you count the man that runs the fruit stall on 7th Avenue and gives me free bananas and a wink.

I would like to point out that I have tons of friends back home though. I want that noted in case you don't know me and you are judging me. Fine to be a Billy, but not on a international scale. 

As it is, I get to live in this amazing city with my demanding and difficult  wonderful husband and my daughter who's a pain in the arse  great companion, but I don't get to share it with many friends.


There has been some Yank potential, but they have all come to nothing. My American says all Americans are flaky, but I think he's either just being nice or simply judging his countrymen by his own low standards.

Most notable so far is my hairdresser, who I would like to be my number one GBF. He makes my endlessly disappointing hair look like a Loreal ad, so I loved him at first blow dry. He said he would show me around Harlem, but then he didn't ask for my mobile number to make the arrangements. He is quite shy, so I didn't want to be pushy (apparently I can be pushy? persistent I prefer) but then I found out he does Tyra Bank's hair and I became a bit frantic. I knew I would have to pay- in the form of many $100 a time haircuts- in order to foster this friendship. But that will take time, as both my hair and my wallet can only afford to see him every couple of months. Not ideal, as I am an impatient cow.

When I first arrived in New York I was so keen you could smell the desperation oozing out of my pores. I tried to pick up friends in cafes, shops, parks. I look back and I cringe. "I'm so 'ronery!" said my face "Love me! Love me! I am usually so popular!" It was like being single again, except I was way less fussy. Anyone who's knew me before I met The American will understand that means my expectations were really in the toilet.

Then I realised that you can't force something that should be organic. All my mates in the UK I have met through school, uni or work, these were friendships that grew over the months and years.  I never needed any more mates at home, because I'd been lucky enough to have plenty of them. Friendship came easy to me, fallen into my lap all my life. I love people and people have loved me right back.

But in my infinite wisdom I moved to another country and decided writing should be my full time occupation. A job where you work alone. This is the worse possible scenario for a social buzzy bee me. I am not good with solitude. 100 seconds of it is too much for me. Some days I go to Duane Reade just to be bitched out by someone and inhale the milk of human unkindness.

I blame my expectations on endless TV shows about how much fun it is to have friends in New York. And how they'll be there for you when the rain starts to come.

I especially blame (again) the show that we never dare speak it's name since it sold out and made an appalling saccharin big screen version. It was always like ''Blah, blah men uggh but girfriends are sugar sprinkles on the cupcake of loveliness la la la." Well guess what bitches? Your show was a croc. I said Ta Ta to heels (mostly) cos you can't wear them all the time in New York like you made out and I have hardly any mates, so what I am suppose to do? Drink Manhattan dry on my own? Or with my Teenager?  Let's be honest, she doesn't want to go out with her Mother and I would rather party with someone I don't have bat pervy men off all night.

So what can I do?

I could go to a million meet up groups. I could but I likely won't. I could get a proper job, except the US immigration service are using a snail they shipped in from India to process my work visa. Meeting people at the gym is not an option, I go to the YMCA, where many patrons are over 70 and wear jeans on the treadmill.

I could blame the problem on the big city, I could blame in on my age, I could blame it on boogie.

So what am I to do in this city where there is much closeness? You share tables with strangers, you squeeze next to them on trains, you cram in long lines with them. You are so close, but so far. There are a million me's as I was back home: people with enough friends, busy lives, no room for anyone else in the hearts or on their blackberries. So what am I to do?

What I am to do, I have decided- is to realise I cannot replicate 34 years of friendships in 8 months.  I am to relax and be patient. I am to know that New York friends will come. I am also to be glad my mates back home still give me their time and love through emails, phone calls and SKYPE. Hell, for now I am to be my own best friend, at least I know I'm not flaky.

Or I could just follow the advice of New Yorkers when I've asked "How do you make friends in this town?" They all say the same thing.



  1. Hi friend! We should do lunch/drinkys soon! :-)

  2. Don't make anymore new friends please. You have your quota for this year - me! And I might not be in NYC all the time, but I'll be there pretty damn often. Though if you really want some we can go out and hunt some down in packs. x

  3. That goes for me too. The Cardiff massive will be hitting the mean streets of Manhattan VERY SOON. Hang on in there. x

  4. hello, may i ask, when people in NY ask where your 'from', do you say 'I'm Welsh', or 'I'm british'?


  5. Hey Jim-good question. I mostly say that I'm Welsh, although that usually ends up in a massive explanation of where Wales is (shocking I know), so sometimes when I'm rushed I just say British, but I never say English! x

  6. I've been here almost three years, and I'm still a bit of a billy. It's kind of difficult making friends with people who don't know how to pronounce 'water', I have to say.

  7. hi emma,

    thanks for replying. yeah, it is frustrating, but also perhaps understandable, when people don't know where Wales is. but i find that 99% of people are genuinely interested to know - so it is worth it.

    i remember the last time i said i was 'british' (like you, in a rush), and the person's response was, 'i love england!'. not their fault, but a lesson to me, certainly.




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