I have now been here for about two weeks, and I feel like already there are changes within me. I have done things (by myself) that not that long ago, I thought I would never have done .
Luckily, I have a contact here in the city who has been so wonderfully welcoming and helpful. She is a high-school friend of my father when he lived here over 45 years ago. My brother and I affectionately call her Aunty, even though I may be able to count on my fingers the times we have met her or spoken to her on the phone. She is truly an amazing person. She is bright, outgoing, confident and kind. The personality in which the world portrays American’s having. Besides, she has the ‘aunty’ vibe going, too!
She took me for dinner in an amazing restaurant in Greenwich Village (Mary’s Fish Camp, 64 Charles Street – the Shrimp Burger is incredible!) and asked me all about my journey, how the family is doing and my motivations for this journey. She also started to delve much deeper into the New Yorker lifestyle than I would have ever been before – and I’m very grateful for it.
After dinner she took me to a row of three shops in the village, which specialised in English products and cuisine (Tea & Sympathy, 108 Greenwich Village) so that ‘If you get a little home-sick, you can come here to find a remedy’ – a fish and chip shop, a restaurant/café and a shop full of English products! (I’ve since been back and bought myself a pack of chocolate Digestives, a big pot of Marmite and some Robinson’s Orange Squash.)
This was a day or so after I arrived, and since then she has introduced me to new people. After she made the first contact, it was up to me to go and meet these strangers and spend time with them by myself. I did, despite my ‘old’ nature, and they are incredible and unique to themselves and the types of people I wouldn’t usually meet back in the U.K.
One invited me to a comedy show she was going to for research, in a UCB Theatre in Hell’s Kitchen (she is studying a comedy writing course). Its a place for improve, sketch and stand-up comedy and tickets are less than $10. It was great, and I felt like one of the Friends watching Joey’s ‘Freud! The Musical’ performance.
I went again a few days later to watch her own written work being performed by professional actors. Her writing had the audience, including me, laughing about the idiocies of social media – if you don’t post a picture of being on an anti-gun rally, you must be the world’s biggest #1 gun supporter. If you have only ever posted one birthday picture, you can only be, like, one years old, right? Congratulations to her, it was great, and I felt very lucky to have been invited.
Another newly introduced friend met me at the East River State Park which had, in his opinion, the best view of Manhattan. He wasn’t wrong. He’s just got back from visiting and studying with monks in Asia. When he finishes university, he’s hoping to start his own meditation classes. He has his own Instagram account for his Health & Wellness Website: goodvibetribe Check it out and give it a follow!
He then showed me round parts of lower Manhattan. The next day he invited me to visit him and an artist friend in an apartment block in BedStuy (my neighbourhood), where his mum and the artist friend work closely together to find up-and-coming artists. It was a studio full of cool, interesting and varied pieces of art scattered around. Up against walls, scattered on workbenches, on the floor of the basement half-finished. fantastic and inspiring.
The found artists are paid to stay there for a month and work, and a party is thrown to celebrate them. The art is displayed and people are invited, whom I assume are known art-world people. Very cool, and I hope to tag along to one if possible.
I’m soon to meet his mum, and my Aunty’s close friends who work in the world’s first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, ‘Gay Men’s Health Crisis’, so I will be very interested to hear all about their work.
My Aunty gave me their number and said
‘You’re even more American now than you were before, so don’t be all British about it. Phone them straight up, introduce yourself and plan to meet them!’
So I did. God bless her.
I’ve only met a few people in the city so far, including my housemates, but all of them are fantastically friendly, unique, interesting people. The above paragraphs highlight just this! I’m so appreciative to my ‘Aunty’ and my new-found friends for being so welcoming and open. Thank you!
On a more personal level, I have been doing lot’s of exploring of the city by myself – jumping on subways here, there and everywhere, dodging traffic (and tourists! Top Tip as a resident – avoid Time Square at all costs, and especially the weekends.) I’m feeling confident, able and most importantly for me: independent. And I’m holding this famous phrase close to my heart:
‘If I could make it here, I could make it anywhere’
I have even been stopped on a few occasions for directions, or advice on which subway line to get, which must mean I’m at least starting to look like a local! Wahoo!
Stay tuned for posts like: Subway Travel, New York food, the people, tipping, bar/club life and maybe even… dating!
Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog. And please do share with friends, family and social media – Next to your anti-gun rally and first birthday pictures!