This is one of those rare tales of a heart-wrenching, unrequited love affair, that after countless years of devotion finally paid off in a dazzling, head-spinning embrace, which in turn entwined us for evermore.
Once upon a time...
My fascination with America began before I had conception enough of time to place it in. It steered my studies, my passions and my tastes. The glow of a California sun; the forthright pride of a Texan; the beautiful colonial French veneer over the haze of slavery in the South. All of it was like sparklers to me.
But at the heart of it all was one place. New York City.
...there was a place called New York
For twenty-seven years I had dreamed, wished and ached to see New York. There were times when the desire brought me to tears; where I felt physical pain from the withdrawal from a place that felt impossible to reach and yet seemed necessary to my very sense of self.
You might think that terribly dramatic. Overwrought perhaps. But I promise you, I am only describing exactly how I felt. New York was part of me, but was being kept from me.
On the 1st October this year, I boarded a plane to JFK. In a hotel on East 39th between Lexington and Third, at 3.30am, I woke up as excited as a child on Christmas eve. I simply could not sleep. Which is why I slid open my hotel window. And that is when New York accepted and acknowledged me.
The tears rolled silently down my cheek and the warm Manhattan breeze slowly dried them in turn.
The little things
Like any classic love story, it was the little moments, smiles, nooks and brand new familiarities that meant my heart was forever taken.
18 miles of books on 12th and Broadway. A purple fur stole in Trash and Vaudeville. The last pair of the most fabulous shoes on sale and in my size in Macy's. The stone steps, the metal fire escapes, the mint lemonade slushy and the unexpected and overwhelming friendliness.
A love requited
I look forward to writing a travellers account of all we saw, heard, ate and did. I took plenty of photos and nabbed plenty of sentimental tokens: matches, napkins, menus and more. But I am not ready to do that yet. To talk about it in terms of things and places. Occasions and transactions. For me, I am still floating in the throws of ecstasy that comes with being truly and deeply in love, and feeling that love in return.
Not only did that magical city not disappoint, but it exceeded my expectations. It was everything my heart had said it would be but with more feeling, depth, colour and sound than I could possibly have conceived of. I traversed the streets, navigated the Subway and slid into hidden gems as though I was born to be there.
New York was no ethereal lover. New York wrapped me in its arms, smiled and made me feel at home in my own skin.