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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Belatedly, Farewell New York - January 2014

Farewell, beautiful Manhattan

In January this year many things changed. After many months, searching myself for the answer, I made a decision and moved back from New York to London, leaving behind my life in New York: my job with some of the best people I know, my small group of great friends, and every jewel in this mesmerising city's crown. I also left my beautiful apartment, whose decoration to (my own) stylish perfection ebbed away with the disappearance of one piece of furniture here, a Goodwill donation there, and finally, moving day, where the entire apartment was magicked away, back to the bare hard-wood floors and white walls I had sat with a few days on moving to the city.

Bared All

I sat on the floor with a single glass for water remaining of all my household possessions. In a few short hours, the apartment became the anonymous shell I moved into, my presence erased.

A life in boxes

Removal men took each piece of my New York existence. Down four flights of stairs and out into the coldest New York day I can imagine, Blizzards from the previous day departed, icy winds roared through the blocked city, and clear skies encased Manhattan in a giant frozen snow globe.

Bus with icicles on a walk to 51st street

In New York, the city they say never sleeps, I sometimes doubted that existence. New York might not be sleeping, but how easy it is for its people to sleep walk through it. In truth, New York was at times the loneliest place on earth I could imagine, The desert is true to its name; so too the great plains or the frozen wastelands of the arctic.

The coldest days

These places conjure desolate landscapes - no people, no life. But where there is so much - perhaps too much - life, New York,  and one's involvement in that life is too often limited to the arrival of your takeout, and a three second encounter with the delivery guy, it's hard to remember that you are part of the world at all. A life can be packed up or tossed out like an unwanted Christmas tree after twelfth night.

After the festival comes the felling

A million New York faces were always rushing somewhere. I passed them silently. They did not see me. Perhaps no one saw them either. Albert Schweitzer said: "We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness." I had to go home. I had loved Manhattan's brightness and mysteries with my husband, family and friends accompanying me on their trips from England. As a married woman living alone three and a half thousand miles from me, however, finding enough friends to fill the void and provide my nuclear support proved impossible. The support I needed was ready-made in another place, and eventually I had to give you up, beautiful Manhattan, for my home - where my beloved is - and leave you to your interminable lonely rushing, changing and searching.

My bijoux apartment; decorated with love

Better, then to be on the move. Moving around with the (lonely?) crowds, hurtling or gliding imperceptibly towards something, and away from something else,

My sadness abounded. mixed with anticipation for a permanent reunion with my most missed husband, and my friends and family. Bittersweet. Many things I did 'for the last time'. Eating and drinking high on the list, I admit, but walking by the reservoir, seeing Chagall at the Jewish Museum, and visiting Moma and Bergdoff's. Even alone I found them as beautiful as always. And the style. Walking through the streets in my duvet coat and hat, I epitomised winter dressing for the average New Yorker. So much so that to my delight I was sometimes seen - asked for directions, recommendations, information. Apparently I must know. You just had to look at me to realise it.

Penthouse view

I'll write a separate post of favourite food and drinking establishments - and of favourite places in general, I may never see my laundry server, Jeanie, again. I was leaving for London; she for Austria to be married. I don't know if I'll be able to get $15 manicures again, with only a small extra amount for the best back rubs ever. And I had my hair cut for $20 for the last time. I think that one's a dead cert for finality.

Third Avenue and E89th in the snow, January 2014

And some for the first - seeing (and hearing, of course) La Boheme at the Met with my friend Alex on the coldest night of my life. The star lights rose to the sky and I heard the most beautiful music of loneliness in the only place fitting. With those lonely characters I wasn't alone anymore. I was part of their world.

I ended my time with the best of Manhattan - with my friends. Le Bistro Chat Noir will forever be my last tango with Manhattan dining in that period of residency. No Anna Wintour, but pink Champagne and delicious lunch with my wonderful friends Dave and Kari. A lovely send off for the British woman who dared to dream of Manhattan. To them I say thanks for being true friends and supportive while I lived in Manhattan - and also for helping me up the restaurant stairs with my bags and into my last yellow cab for a while.

Herding cats at Le Bistro Chat Noir

One final glass of Champagne at the airport and then home. Farewell and Au Revoir Manhattan. I hope that we meet again.


  1. Lovely post Jessica. Would like to reblog on the reading group blog but you're on Blogger and we're on Wordpress. Would you consider following us so that I could give you access to post yourself?

    1. Yes absolutely- will work out how. Thanks for reading!

  2. Lovely eulogy to NYC, Jessica! Lots and lots of truth in here. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm so glad I found you (via David) during your NYC adventure. A great friend, located :). NYC misses you too! xo

    1. I really miss New York too Kari. Owing to my current physical state I'm watching a lot of Netflix in between eating, sleeping and reading and so many films or shows feature New York that it's really hard not to miss it terribly and wish I were back there - for longer than a short trip. Thank you for reading and I hope you keep in touch with the blog. And I also hope that we see each other very soon. xx Jessica