Ultimate New York Nostalgia

11870723_10206818834537084_6959932507426223916_n

It has been a year since I first left the UK to go to New York, packing a tiny suitcase with me with five outfits, one bag, three pairs of shoes and a whole lotta dollar (well, not quite). My expectations of the city were very different to the reality. It was hard living there – especially in the humid heat. I stood out for the better and the worse with my posh British accent, got far too annoyed with tourists and found myself becoming far more direct and brash ‘New Yorker style’ towards the end of my stay (it didn’t last long – don’t worry).

I wrote a post about leaving last August and I wanted to re – post it to share. It defines my trip and my opinion and my experience of the city.

I’ve been waking up early a lot these last few days. The heat is so humid that I often wonder if I have been kidnapped, waking up in the wilderness of the jungle. Sometimes I think I really have. It’s just more concrete and less wilderness. There are similarities though. Looking around, there are beasts everywhere, both figuratively and literally. Rats, mice, humans – the most animalistic of them all. There is a fight for survival, the weak don’t stand a chance. Pushing your way around the subway crowds without smiling is a good method.

Unlike the real jungle, it is fairly easy to get out of here. There is nothing forcing you to stay, in fact most will say please go – there’s one less person to compete with in finding a place to stay, a subway seat, a table at a $20 bottomless brunch.

Yet there is something so beautifully gritty about this city. So repulsive but compelling, so crowded yet so peaceful. People come here from all over the world to settle. Seek refuge.

Why? Because it accepts everyone and everything. It might swallow you up some days, but it will spit you back out and allow you to see it’s unconventional beauty with a fresh eye. On these days, the days I hate New York and then suddenly see it again in new eyes, I realise how sad I will be when I have to leave.

The Definition of ‘Home’

IMG_4520.JPG

Pictured is me, age five in my favourite Spice Girls t – shirt in my restaurant/ house/ cafe/ den in the back garden. Excuse my facial expression, I think I was caught mid – sneeze.

My parents home is currently up for sale and they are relocating to the countryside. I get asked a lot how I feel about that. Don’t I feel sad? Surely I must – those bricks and water that sheltered me from the age of three to now (on and off) will be taken over by a new family.

The answer is no. Not really. To me, it isn’t really ‘home’ anymore. However, it does mean that I will have to find somewhere permanent to live myself. No more ‘going back home’ for months at a time to the safety blanket of my childhood bedroom.

This got me thinking of all my other ‘homes’ that I have had in the last five years – where I have gone off to with the confidence of knowing that if I happen to boomerang back to Surrey, I will have somewhere to stay.

I have had seven bedrooms in the past five years. Three in Cardiff, one in Aarhus, Denmark, one in France, two in New York and the bedroom at my parents house. I find if funny how easily I settle somewhere new, and how hard it is when I have to leave. The familiar is never permanent in life, and this is something I learnt as soon as I moved out of university halls. Your bedroom, daily routine, corner shop, neighbours – all everyday fixtures in your life, are things that suddenly change. I feel a small part of my soul is still in every one of the bedrooms I have stayed in, the ‘me’ then being slightly different to the ‘me now – simply because I have a new routine, a new ‘local’ and a very different view from my bedroom window. Mountains in France, sky scrapers in New York, hills in Denmark and  residential rubbish – trodden streets in Cardiff were once background scenes in my day – to – day life. Now I think about them in the past tense.

With my parents impending departure from the ‘familiar’ family home, I am spending every spare second looking at rooms to move to. As a freelance writer, I have the flexibility to move around the world – anywhere with a plug and a Wi-Fi code. Sometimes I think about moving back to one of my old homes. But I’m scared that going back will ruin the memories I have. People make places, not concrete and bricks.

And so the quest continues to find a place to settle where I will feel asa ‘at home ‘as I have done in the other bedrooms I have had so far in my life. How so very, very grown up.

Returning To One Of My Many Homes

12310492_10207441860712349_723933827673908404_n.jpg

I like the small pleasure of being somewhere long enough to be in the ‘know’. These stairs are not only the gateway to the beautiful Bute Park, but a shortcut to the city centre. I count Cardiff as one of my many homes. Studying there for three significant years of my life, it feels far more familiar than the town I grew up in.

I went there for a few days last week to visit a friend and reminisce about old times. While it was a nice time, it was the first time I had gone back there that I didn’t really feel so at home. There were so many new places, old haunts had shut down, and the students were suddenly babies, rather than being my age or older.

There is something quite haunting when you find that the familiar is slowly changing, when time interferes and injects more recent memories that somewhat overshadow those that were once held so significant. Your head can play powerful tricks on you, and nostalgia can be dangerous. In order to stop disappointment, it is so very important to create new memories so that you don’t live your life relying on the past to make your everyday seem special. As chances are, if you were to go back, it wouldn’t be as great as you would have imagined.

Be Who You Want To Be But Don’t Try Too Hard

10915258_10153048320522853_8578150030359167761_n I have stolen this photo from the  Freelance Writing Jobs page on Facebook because I think it is so true. Not just to me, but to so many people I know. Think back to when you were at school, to college, to present day. I for one can think of 100 ways in which I have changed. For instance, I used to think that wearing green tights and a blue dress with pink ribbons in my hair was a cool look at 14 – maybe some would say i was a hipster before they were hip, while others will see it was just plain tragic. I also never really got the concept of work – my saturday job at Gap used to feel like a punishment and I even asked if I could take time off to go to parties – worlds worst teen employer is I. Although trivial and silly things, as lets not get too deep at 21.57 on a Wednesday night, I feel that both examples of my former self represent in some small way, me trying to be someone cooler than I was. The try hard outfit certainly got a lot of comments, and I guess I just didn’t want to miss out on any party that was going on. I didn’t quite grasp that really, I had my own brain and could think quite okay on my own. If it were me today, I would be wearing black as it means I can wear anything and look smart/ fancy/ casual simply through the chosen colour, and I certainly wouldn’t miss out on any second of work now that I have fully grasped the concept of money and how it matters in this world. I used to even write in a ‘cool’ language made up of words like ‘tehe’ and ‘lol’ and ‘groovy(!!)’. I assumed that when I looked back at my diary years later, i would still feel as hip and in trend as I was then. How I was wrong. I think everybody, no matter their age should just be who they are. We all have personas and past interests/ personalities and damn right embarrassing wardrobes that makes us exist as numerous people throughout our lifetime. But right now, anyone that is buying a pair of green tights to look cool when really thinking ‘why oh why’ and anyone that is eating organic almond milk, just because its ‘the right thing to drink now’ should just relax (this had to be mentioned as I see so many people doing this right now who are loosing bones by the day!). Be that person you want to be, and most importantly who you really are – so that in years to come you can look back at your diary Facebook and think – yea that was me and I am proud!

Blink And Your Life Has Changed

A picture on my friend’s Instagram account of sushi bought on this rather random spout of nostalgia. It reminded me that this time a year ago, I was doing exactly as I am now (laying in bed watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians), except for the fact that I was in France. I could walk out and get sushi from the amazing take out restaurant two roads away from my room any time I wanted. Tesco shuts in two minutes here, and their sushi doesn’t taste half as fresh. Sigh.

2014-06-08 21.51.57

It makes me realise you have to live in the moment, enjoy every second of your day and make the most of it – because your life will have changed in some way come the new year. This might be as simple as you moving up a school year and changing friends, or in my case, moving back home and readapting to your old life. But who is to say this will last forever? Who knows what the next moment will bring. It is all very strange and exciting in equal measures, as well as a little bit scary too.

album34

It makes me not want to celebrate New Years Eve. I have had many options – albeit tricky to get home from, and it makes me just want to stay in, watch a film and forget that the year is ending. Because why celebrate something ending when you are enjoying it? Why not just live for the day, rather than the year – because who knows what the next year will bring!

photo 3-15

P.S photos are miscellaneous because I don’t really have anything to illustrate here – simply just enjoy what is in front of you, hover simple it might appear (as simple as sushi I should say).

A Bit Of Nostalgia

CNV00018 2

Don’t you just hate Sunday evenings when you know that those two blissful days of rest and fun are over for another five days. I certainly do.

When I was at school, those five days used to drag. If only I appreciated the slow pace of life back then, because now I feel like I’ve blinked and its not only already nearly Christmas, but I am soon to be another year older.

This time last year, I was in France celebrating my birthday. Although it’s not until the 22 December, I like to drag it out and celebrate it as much as I can – especially as there is that overshadowing festivity called Christmas that always seems to get in the way.

We all like to be nosey, so here is what I got up to. My friends came over, and my trusty disposable camera managed to capture some great moments on camera, including my friend Birdie sitting on the radiator and breaking it. Luckily, we managed to fix it…!

CNV00015 2

CNV00011 2

CNV00020 2

CNV00012 2

Don’t we all look happy!

580286_10202437838814929_132158064_n

Here we are celebrating in Charlie’s, a pub that was conveniently next to my house and named after Charlie Chaplin.

CNV00004 2

I remember the evening well because it was Friday 13 and I was convinced something unlucky would happen. I always get stressed out organising my birthday and am always such a last minute person (writing this actually reminds me I need to book a table somewhere for this coming birthday too) – the Christmas party crowd always seem to get there before me, thanks to their office PA’s and their highly efficient booking schedules. I must remember to book next years birthday in June to save disappointment.

1456568_10202437840094961_1497082242_n

I needn’t have worried about the unlucky date. My birthday in France was a huge success and in fact you could even say we got lucky. I lived near to a Casino in my small French town and we decided to go there when the Charlie rang his final bell.

CNV00001 2

These guys were kind enough to not only share their winning coins at the casino so that we could play (none of us won, of course), but treated us to a pizza before we went home.

1505034_10152163946304923_26922084_n

Did I mention that this pizza was bought from a vending machine? Oh, well it was. We were so impressed, I mean you can just see how happy we look. I’m not sure if it is something that is normal in France, or maybe more specifically the town Gex, but it was quite common for people to stop off and grab a pizza out of a machine placed in the middle of a car park. Dinner sorted.

When our goats cheese pizza was delivered (oh yes, there were many different varieties to choose from), it came out looking like it had been sent from out of space. Here is the evidence (well the empty box, you saw us – we clearly didn’t wait to eat it before we got home).

1483380_10152163946114923_1691523470_n

I am not sure the ins and outs and how health and safety would feel about the pizza after inspecting the process to which it is heated, nor do I think I would want to. I can tell you this much though, I still remember that night celebrating my birthday, along with that anticipating wait for the pizza to pop out of the vending machine slot like it was yesterday. It’s one of those fun and random nights that I managed to capture on camera and these photos make me smile whenever I look at them.

CNV00008 2

I still can’t believe that it was already a year ago that I was celebrating my birthday in France. I will write more about my time there in future blogs. I have only just started to get over how amazing my year was and move on – as if I was mourning something I can only now look back on but never return to in the same way with the same people again.

Do you have a bit of nostalgia that makes you smile from ear to ear when your walking down the street thinking of it – something that may be so insignificant in the scheme of your other life events, but funny or silly enough to be remembered? Nostalgia is a funny old thing. And as for my vending machine pizza, well the take away sort are now just not the same anymore.