When moving to a new city, I have found there are certain ingredients, a recipe of sorts, that combined together create… well, a life I suppose. I like the idea of life being like one big delicious cake, the recipe for which you spend your years on this earth perfecting. I think each person’s recipe is a little different depending on what makes them smile, laugh, relax, sleep well etc but, so far, my recipe includes:
Friends – I left behind some wonderful friends in England and for a while I felt a little alone in this big beautiful city. Happily, I now have some wonderful people who make me laugh, who make me think, who make me want to share and create and who make me feel loved and appreciated. I need them in my life and am grateful they walked into it when they did.
A home – Now this might sound like an obvious one but I don’t just mean a roof over your head. I mean somewhere you feel proud of, somewhere you feel happy and safe and inspired. Our lovely little apartment is now, for me, just that. It took a few new things, some old things and one or two living things but now it is no longer just a house, it is a home. Our home.
Bolt holes – For me, these are places to hide, write, feed, talk and occasionally cry. (Back in Bath my best friend and I seemed to get into the habit of crying in coffee shops. I know it sounds sad but it’s wonderfully cathartic to do over a cup of Earl Grey and a slice of something delicious, and the owner of this particular establishment never seemed to mind!) Anyway, bolt holes; I loved looking for these in London and I am having the same wonderful experience here. New York is vast in its many side streets and walkways, each leading somewhere new and exciting. I’m sure this list will grow enormously over the next few years but, for now, I have: a late night cookie place, a (dairy and gluten free!?) mac and cheese place, a few cosy cafe places and a cute little cocktail bar that does the most wonderful ‘seasonal’ specials. (When it comes to colder weather I am a fan of anything alcoholic with ‘spiced’ in the title.)
A good grocery store – (or supermarket for my dear British readers) This was a big one for me. As many of you know, food has been a big part of my life in recent years. After cutting out dairy and wheat back in 2010 I really got into ‘good’ food. I worked at a farmers market in London for a while and that really only fuelled the fire. This week, I got fed up with our poky little local place and went in search of Brooklyn Whole Foods. When I stepped in the door I would have made a big ‘ahhhh’ sound (as in heavenly choir, not screaming in horror) if there hadn’t been a security guard standing right in front of me. I absolutely love it there. You can see everything, there’s space to move, if you’re careful it doesn’t have to cost the earth and a lot of their products are local too which I love. Hooray for fresh vegetables, fancy tea and slightly over-priced home made granola!
So, with all of the above checked off my list, my ‘life cake’ was looking like it was going to be pretty tasty, which was a relief after spending the last two years building up to starting a life here! Then this month… I found my secret ingredient:
This little cuddle monster came into our lives a few weeks ago now and I am just beyond happy that she did. I could post a thousand cute kitten pictures but aside from the undeniable adorability factor (new word, appropriate I feel), the biggest discovery that I have made is that having a small furry someone lingering in your doorways and destroying your sofa and sneaking onto your bed at night, suddenly makes everything feel a lot more permanent, more rooted. Not long after she arrived I had a whole ‘life, career, the universe and everything’ conversation with a new friend of mine, and one of my main points of realisation was ‘I’ve got a cat now… it’s all starting to feel real.’
For those who helped see me through some of the more difficult months before moving to America, when I was fighting for my right to be here, trying to make a life for myself in a city I was about to leave, and was all the while still aching for the other half of me that I had been apart from for almost four years, you will understand the depth of this new found feeling of home. I got there, finally, and am now blissfully bathing in the light at the end of the tunnel. For those new to my story and my writing, I can only hope my words will do this new situation justice.
If not… there’s always more cat pictures.