Monday, 13 April 2009


Good morning. I am a fourteen-year-old girl living in London, and I have a problem.
Or, more specifically, New York Withdrawal.

In the grand scheme of things, not such a big issue. But the oft-referred to 'Grand Scheme Of Things' is really so grand and so infinitely more important than my own little problems that it's hardly even possible to relate to. To an ant whose life consists of finding crumbs and carrying them back to the ant hole, NYW would no doubt be even more catastrophic and momentous than , say, a tsunami would be to me. If you're not so keen on things that only seem important to ants and me, maybe you'd be better off reading The Financial Times or a book about Nietzsche.

So here's the story: this time 2 weeks ago I set off with ten other girls from my school to go on the questionably-titled 'New York Exchange'. My heart went with me, but it never returned. That simple. After a week in the city of straight streets, pretzels and a general abundance of all things yellow, I realised that London, a city I have always loved for its vibe, its fashion, its green spaces and its people, had paled in my mind to a vaguely pleasant place only preferable to the Outer Hebrides because of its shops and proximity to several international airports.

I flew home in deep gloom.

Not even in jet lag could I find some solace-my cheery family, fresh from a week's skiing, were careful to keep me up and moving for the 12 hours between my arrival home and a reasonable bed time. When I slept, I was too exhausted even to dream (unusual, for me), and the next morning, waking to the usual Spring gloom of London, that buzzing City of Blinding Lights seemed even further away than the 3500 miles it already was. Morosely, I spent time ploughing through my photos and editing them in various ways on Picasa. My family found my homesickness mildly entertaining at first, and then a little annoying; maybe even affected. What could I tell them that would begin to explain my angst, when I'm still not sure myself why I loved New York so much and what I miss?

There is so much there that's different to London: the straight roads with their grid system, the yellow taxis that make up a third of the traffic, the subway with its sardine-tin trains, the regimented wilderness of Central Park, the way that everything's so close together (I spent the whole week in Manhattan). The road signs, the people with their American accents and curiosity about this big group of chirpy English girls. The skyscrapers, the flashing lights of Times Square, the weather that alternated routinely each day-one day sunny, one day cloudy. The huge portions, the confusing clothing sizes, the language (loo-restroom, lift-elevator, holiday-vacation, crisps-chips...) and the pronunciation (herbs-'erbs, awful-ahful). Just something that made me feel excited when I got up every morning, and made me feel chic and fashionable walking the streets. As a girl slightly obsessed with fashion and Gossip Girl, to be in the city where The Devil Wears Prada was filmed, and to sit on the same steps and walk in the same park that Blair and Serena do on a weekly basis, was intoxicating.

Who knows how long it will be before I go back there again? Certainly not in the immediate future, for with this summer already planned out, and Christmas and next Easter designated for mocks and GCSE revision, there's hardly a spare minute for me to spend popping over the Atlantic. But one thing's certain:

I will return!

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