Monday, August 24, 2009

Transient City

As I attended not one but two farewell parties this weekend, I was reminded of the transient nature of New York City. Both friends felt their time was up - one is moving back to London while the other has decided to try his luck in Thailand and enjoy a more sedate lifestyle for a while.

I believe that transience is quite unique to New York and an intrinsic part of the social dynamics in the sense that it changes the way friendships are formed (and perhaps one could argue also the volatile nature of romantic relationships). I met most of my friends here through shared UK connections - it is very natural for people to meet up with friends of friends if they have just moved to the City and quickly include them in their own social group. There is a common acknowledgment that the City can be a big and daunting place if you don't know anyone. It makes building new friendships in the City a much faster process but it also creates a fairly tight knit expat community as I am finding now that a lot of my friends here are British.

It is with a little sadness that I am facing this first wave of departures but I also have long been preparing myself for it. As with any expatriate community, a lot of people have no real sense of how long they will be staying in their new adopted City. But I also know first hand that true friendships can withstand geographical distances.

At least, goodbye parties make for memorable evenings. K's party on Saturday night was a pretty wild affair - we started with drinks at Madame X, a small and dark Soho bar modeled after a bordello with crimson walls and odd paintings on the walls, before hopping in a taxi to Fat Baby. We danced relentlessly until four o'clock in the morning and although I paid the price for it dearly the next day, I still have the awesome beats of DJ Kool's "Let me clear my throat" running through my head and putting a smile on my face two days later!

On the other hand, S had opted for a relaxed dinner gathering on Sunday night to bide her farewell to New York. A group of about ten of us went to Public, which may well become one of my new staple restaurants in Noho. We opted for the amazing Sunday tasting menu and were in for a little surprise ... The restaurant was primarily filled with the head chef's friends (who happen to include the actress Julia Stiles who was sitting at the table next to us) for a special screening of his appearance on Iron Chef America, where he won the challenge ... with the exact menu we had just sampled!

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