Happy New Year everyone!
We are kicking off 2016 with something a little different! Our glorious friend Leah (pictured above, smiling) likes to go on adventures and, like any good friends would do, we have spent an unreasonable amount of time pressuring her into writing about them for us! Until now we have failed to convince her to do so but imagine our excitement when she decided to embrace her inner Carrie Bradshaw (sorry, Leah) and write about her trip to New York for us! Hoorah! Over the next few weeks we are going to be posting Leah’s NY diary, which should help us combat those January blues and, potentially, leave us all a lot poorer once we’ve inevitably booked flights to America so that we can follow in her footsteps. Fun fact: Leah is really good at both writing and adventures.
I’m going to New York City to see a boy. That’s right, I’ve fallen in love. Not with the boy (though he is pretty dreamy) but with New York. Having spent five days there in the hazy summer of ’05 and my whole sentient life soaking up the city in sight and sound, I know it intimately and not at all; New York is the teen crush I’ll never grow out of. A few weeks back, an octogenarian New Yorker mocked me for fawning over her accent: I’ve got it bad. It’s my first solo trip anywhere and I’m terrified and excited in equal measure. Will my British accent and claims I live in a castle be enough to buy me some friends? Will I meet She & Hem’s exacting standards? Probably not, but I shall try my very best.
Friday, 11th December
“You’re going to New York City… On… Your…Own?” My palms became so sweaty that I feared I would fail the fingerprint scan at Newark Airport. The incredulous tone of the man welcoming me to the USA got me thinking, was this the most ridiculous idea ever conceived? Was I the first person to venture to the Big Apple alone? Aren’t we all essentially alone? “Ummm….yes?” I offered, memories of last night’s work Christmas party conga line and the accompanying headache fresh in my mind. After a few more probing questions and a sigh of relief to my response about leaving the country in ten days, I was through security with a vague sense that I’d failed and that I wasn’t really good enough to be in America. It was time to seek out a friend, a prize with which I would be rewarded after doing battle with a tram, train and subway. I was nervous and excited but mainly so so sleepy.
Saturday, 12th December
I awoke at Nash’s apartment (a self styled “hell hole” that wasn’t actually all that bad) with a cat in my face. It had identified me as an outsider and was willing to stare me out until I confessed. I had met Nash in a Trick Art Museum on Jeju Island, South Korea in July and liked his sarcastic sense of humour. We went for French Toast and pancakes at a diner in Park Slope, a leafy area of Brooklyn where he lives and I did my best not to comment on how cool and like a movie set everything was (everything was super cool and like a movie set). It was an unseasonably warm, bright December day and we decided to do a spot of people watching in Prospect Park before checking out the wonderful Brooklyn Public Library and the awesome Brooklyn Museum. I was particularly excited to see an exhibition on Coney Island, a favourite stop on my post university road trip around North America. Later on I would rave about pizza BY THE SLICE and hope that I wasn’t becoming too annoying a house guest. I took myself off on a photography walk while Nash finished some work (in his spare time, he’s a grad student at NYU), aiming for the gritty industrial port. I couldn’t stop beaming to myself as I took it all in, catching sight of the Statue of Liberty in the distance, marvelling at the beautiful Brownstones, the festive decorations and the ubiquity of the stars and stripes.
Sunday, 13th December
I have been savaged by mosquitoes. In New York. In December. On the plus side, it’s another gloriously sunny and mild day in Brooklyn and those sights ain’t gonna see themselves. Why don’t we have delicious French Vanilla coffee in Britain? Maybe we do and I’ve never noticed. After a leisurely (pronounced leez-ure-ly) start, I decided to embark upon the Lonely Planet walking tour of Brooklyn Heights: more beautiful brownstones and incredible views of the iconic Manhattan skyline. I also took in Truman Capote’s house (I think I was looking at the right one) and Jane’s Carousel before wandering around the super cool and elephant free DUMBO, which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. After reading about the resurgence of poetry as an art form in the New Yorker a couple of months ago (I’m so cultured), I managed to seek out Berl’s Poetry Shop. Unfortunately, it was closed! I finished the day strolling up the magnificent Columbia Heights, the street on which my Brooklyn buddy grew up. Fun fact: Nash’s parents once rented a studio in their house to the author Norman Mailer.
In the evening we decided to take a trip to the super cool and super stunning BAM Rose Cinemas to see Chi-Raq, the new Spike Lee movie. We arrived early so had time to make a detour to one of my buddy’s favourite barbecue restaurants, The Smoke Joint. It was packed so we sat at the bar, I confused the beautiful bar staff with my strange accent, we ate Southern Sandwiches, drank Margaritas and enthused about pickles (well, I did). It had a really cool vibe and we shot the breeze about American/British cultural differences for so long that we managed to miss the beginning of the movie. After watching Chi-Raq (which I would give 8/10, btw) I would also like to say hooray for the enthusiasm of American moviegoers. My amazed reaction to high fives at mediocre jokes in Wedding Crashers in ’05 came flooding back. Fun fact: as a child, Nash once went to the baseball with Spike Lee. Apparently he (Spike Lee) was “like 5’1” and really mean”.
To be continued….
….but in the meantime why not follow Leah on Instagram xx