Wednesday, August 25, 2010

About me - Part 2

Cycling in France
Here is the second part of the interview that the lovely Amelie from The Heimweh Safari did with me. As before, you can read it here below or over on her blog.


I introduced you to Stephanie last week. Again, I want to praise her blog Biting the Big Apple and herself. I didn’t attribute points last week. That’s a default. Finding Stephanie in the internet, reading her blog and getting in touch with her has helped me a great deal. 

It gave me the perspective that liking New York might just be a matter of time. That New York might be a city that kicks everybody’s ass at first, in some way or another, (although nobody admits it) and that it’s not just me. Reading Stephanie’s blog is therefore worth more than anything else so far on my Heimweh safari: 8 points.

In the second part of my conversation with her you can read about her first experiences in New York: “American hair”, a broken heart and finally feeling at home.

What was your most mundane and unexpected problem at the beginning (f.ex. laundry, food, etc.). How did you solve it?

Not so much problems as rather interesting discoveries, which were, in no particular order:
  • Realizing that there are no washing machines fitted in any Manhattan apartment. Quickly followed by the realization that dry cleaners here can do your laundry for $8 a pound and thereby making me the happiest girl on earth (I hate laundry).
  • Making myself understood! NYC being probably one of the most multi-cultural cities on earth, you’d imagine that people would be pretty used to accents. But not so in my experience and I’ve had some funny moments at the salad bar counter of delis, trying to say “tomayto” instead of “tomahto” so they would get my order right! And to this day, nine times out of ten, the staff in Starbucks hears “two” coffees when I ask for a “tall” coffee.
  • Getting used to the fact that everything is larger here: paper towels, bags of crisps, chocolate bars … Everything seems to be super-sized! Even hair apparently as whenever I visit my local hairdresser, I always seem leave with what I now call “American hair” – just that bit bouncier and bigger than you would get anywhere else!
  • Getting used to the subway was quite a challenge at first as I found it to be really unintuitive. I, of course, got the hang of it eventually and I am now even used to the fact that it is completely unpredictable at the weekends as express trains become locals and sometimes vice-versa!

In one of your posts you write, “Despite our enduring love affair, New York has kicked me pretty hard to the ground a couple of times very early on and taught me tough lessons…” What are you referring to? 

You end the very same sentence by, “… some of which I only very recently finally absorbed and accepted.” How? What helped you—in the beginning and over time? Again, in the same post you write that New York has actually become home for you. 
What gives you that feeling?

I’m afraid that I was referring to a good old-fashioned heartbreak! I alluded at one point on my blog that I was infatuated with a New York man who was as complicated, gorgeous and fast-paced as the City itself. Unfortunately for me, I met said man a mere two weeks after moving to NYC and I came to see my feelings for him as interchangeable with my feelings about living in the City itself, the peaks and (mainly) troths of one directly affecting the other.

I struggled for a very, very long time to come to terms with the fact that while we would never be in a normal relationship together, it didn’t mean that my time in New York had been a failure or should be marred by what was a pretty painful experience for me.

So I guess that the feeling of New York being a happy home for me took longer than it perhaps should have done – it kind of creeped in on me as my heart slowly mended and when I finally managed to completely disassociate the City from the man!

Many expats try to recreate their countries of origin in some way. Do you? If so, how? 

I wouldn’t say that I have tried to recreate my country in NYC, maybe because while I am French, I feel very close to British culture and therefore I am not sure which of the two countries I would want to try to recreate here.

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