Wednesday, 1 September 2010

My route to 66...

Much like Joaquin Phoenix I've had a strange and surreal 12 months.

It's exactly a year since I packed up my life in Cardiff and arrived at JFK with a sobbing Teenager. She shedding tears for the boyfriend she left in Wales, me still in shock at my Dad's death a month previously. At my feet some seriously bulging excess baggage.

The American picked us up in a rented SUV and we drove into Manhattan. I was all broad smiles and endless chat, but with a belly groaning with nerves. This is home now. Excited and scared for what lay ahead. Bye bye Cardiff. A fresh start packed to the brim with hope and blindness to any troubles that may lay ahead.

There was no time to ponder on my grief. No pontificating on the enormity of what I had done-giving up a great job at the BBC, renting out my beloved house to strangers, leaving my recently widowed Mum. I was the project manager of this whole new family life and there was a lot of gluing to do, or things would fall apart.

The work started pretty quickly with enrolling The Teenager in school, which was swiftly followed by finding another school, as she hated the first one. Next, the blistering footwork to find an apartment, followed by ploughing all our savings into securing the right one-which then had to be decorated and furnished. We moved from our temporary digs in Queens to our permanent bijoux box in the West Village and wondered how we were all going to live in harmony in such a tiny space.

There was then the small matter of getting married in Central Park by a naval captain in the freakish hot Autumn sunshine and then a rodent infestation in our perfect apartment in place of a honeymoon. Then began immigration and all the ridiculous, comedy bureaucracy that accompanies it. Have you ever been engaged in vice? Are you planning a coup against the U.S. government? Were you a member of the Nazi party between 1939-1945?

When the excitement wore off and it no longer felt like we were here on a long holiday- the missing came. Missing my Mum, missing my friends, really missing my Dad, missing working, missing Corrie and Cadburys, missing the NHS and missing someone knowing what a wanker is.

I had to find my way around New York and my new family life and there was maps for the first but not for the second, but in both I got lost frequently. Some real personal stuff happened, that even I as a chronic oversharer didn't want to blog about. Winter days got shorter and darker and colder and then snowy. Then there came some even bigger problems which I  couldn't blog about and then there was some money problems due to the stuff I couldn't blog about.

Throughout it all I missed not having girl mates to talk the extra 15 thousand words a day that women need to say. Finding them became my mission and I was horribly desperate at first, a girl's girl starved of female company. But by the time there was spring blossom outside our window the friends came. Then the friendships had to be fostered through NY girl activities like toxic cocktail drinking and $20 manicures from women who bitch about you in Korean. But mostly it was about the drinking. There is little that cannot be forged over a Manhattan mixed Martini.

Summer, the last season in the cycle. (More) Tears (than usual) for my Dad on the anniversary of his death, temperatures of 100 degrees giving birth to an obsession with air cons. Our green cards arriving in the mailbox and the U.S. immigration service using the worse photos I have ever seen of The Teenager and I. A deliberate ploy I believe, so immigrants will not commit crime and end up with an unflattering picture of them on the news. 

I blogged about most of what happened over the year here on Welsh Alien. In fact, I wrote so much I didn't actually write my book, but then I have not been writing my book for at least a decade, so at least that's one comfortable consistency to keep me warm at night. I can safely say I penned at least a book's worth of blogs, except none of you paid 12.99 for my hard work on Amazon. Although I'd like to think you would, given the chance.

I have written 66 blogs so far. This one makes 67.

66 would have been nice. An even, rounded number that evokes World Cup wins and famous American roads. But then that's not my number.

My life here is far more of a 67. A lovely, odd imperfection.


  1. '67 - The Summer of Love.

    Can't wait to come out to see you again, and to see you back in the 'diff.

  2. happy anniversary welsh alien xx

  3. I am always tempted to tick the "Were you a member of the Nazi party between 1939-1945?" box on the green form..

    Happy anniversary!

  4. This made me teary and excited all in one. Fantastic, as ever - and a very useful summary of your year!! Kate xxx

  5. I can't believe it's been a year! Have SO enjoyed reading your blogs and laughing and crying along with you (from afar). Looking forward to hearing all those stories when you come home. You are very missed. Mel x

  6. I've only just found your blog but enjoy what I've read so far. I identify with this last one - I've been in NY 3 years (from UK) but as much as I LOVE NY that first year is a bit tough for all the reasons you mention above.
    Anyway, couple things to show you - my weekly blog
    and the website / company I started with 2 fellow UK expats
    Amongst other things we hold monthly socials for expats in various bars in the city so maybe see you at one?



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