I like to think that I have multiple hearts. They belong to my family, my friends, grilled cheese sandwiches, all types of M&Ms, and one is dedicated to New York City.
When I was three years old, I visited New York for the first time. I was a fish out of water as a little girl from Dallas, Texas wearing my first “real” winter coat. It was then my love affair with the Big Apple began. I told my parents that I would eventually live there. And I spent the next 18 years trying.
Right before graduating the University of Maryland, I landed a job in Soho. It was absolutely surreal. I had done it. 18 years of working towards a dream – the studying, the internships, the interviews – and it had all paid off.
I quickly moved into a 650 square foot converted 3-bedroom apartment. My room’s dimensions were 6’2″x10″, my closet was in the hallway, and one of my roommates had to walk through my bedroom to get to hers. But I was here. I was living in Manhattan.
The next four years were spent falling deeper and deeper in love. I went to almost every tourist attraction twice. I could recite subway stops by heart. I ate at every hot, new restaurant I could afford. I subscribed to New York Magazine to read about upcoming concerts or the latest Broadway shows, or even more restaurants to save up for. I spent Christmas Eves in mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and summers in Central Park bumping around a volleyball. It was a magical and unforgettable time in my life.
My work as a freelance TV Producer led me to meet my fiancé – a Brit living in London. We spent 10 months across an ocean from one another before my heart could take it no longer. We had decided we would move to the States eventually to raise children, and I would move to London in the years before.
The decision to move to London was a tough one. I was flooded with mixed emotions. I was leaving family and friends but they were already making plans to come visit, and of course I’d be able to Skype back home as much as possible. But following my heart also meant leaving a heart behind. A heart of mine that couldn’t answer texts or Facetime or hop on a plane over the pond. I had to break up with my first love and I knew that my new city would never be able to fill the void of my old one.
The wood floors and elevator in our new flat made the inside feel just like my Manhattan apartment, but I had no protection outside the walls. London was different. The bright lights were gone. The locals spoke a different English to mine, and constantly corrected me as if I was doing something wrong. There was no hazelnut coffee offered at the local coffee shop with the same man smiling at me behind the counter. The Tube lines confused me and I always felt lost – in more ways than one. It was one of the most difficult and confusing times in my life.
How could one of my hearts be so solid and another so frail?
I chose to New York-ify London as much as I could. I found my favorite coffee shop, shoemaker, tailor, and an American diner for those days I was really homesick. I researched all of London’s up and coming restaurants, kicked a soccer ball around in the park in the summer, and subscribed to Game Pass to watch my Cowboys on Sundays. Slowly, London was and still is becoming not just where I live, but my home.
I still sit on my couch and reminisce about New York, a place my mother now refers to as “Carrie’s city”. I regularly miss it and all that’s part of it greatly. Because, to me, New York does has it all: A restaurant solely dedicated to how many ways you can serve a meatball. Beach volleyball on a pier in Tribeca. A hotel where you can hold the door for Susan Sarandon going to lunch, have a ping pong game with a fresh pint in the biergarten, and party until 4am while dipping your feet in the rooftop pool!
But of all the wonderful things that New York houses, there’s one thing it doesn’t. And now he has my heart.
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