Thursday 3 September 2015

The End of the Beginning

As it was always going to be, the turn of September meant two things. A handful of the most frustrating days of my life, and the beginning of the end. 

After leaving our beautiful home in Bushwick and one hell of a subway journey with an accumulation of 6 months worth of stuff, for the past few days we have been up in our last American refuge - an air b'n'b in Far Rockaway, the lovely little beachside neighbourhood right by JFK airport. 

Which would be great... if it had anything else apart from a beach, an airport and a ramshackle Dunkin Donuts. Queue endless hours of streaming the Simpsons, eating mac'n'cheese in bed and frustratedly packing and re-packing our bags.

So for now, this Dunkin Donuts is where we sit, (despite Greg not flying til Sunday)  harvesting as much charge on my gadgets and using as much wifi as I can before I enter the deadzone of international airspace, sipping on a painfully sweet ice coffee and watching endlessly repeating infomercials on the small buzzing screen above my head. Dang, you can get an automatic electronic can-and-bottle opener for only $9.99 plus tax?

Sat here in this perpetual pumpkin-spiced purgatory, we've gone through all the motions - we've sighed, we've reminisced, and spent a lot of time doing what we've affectionately termed 'craughing' - the hysterical point in which everything is so crappy and frustrating that you can't help but laugh with a hopelessly mournful expression.

But just now, whilst stirring the fragments of ice bobbing in my soup of liquid glucose and caffeine, a woman passes our tables and stops, gazing down at our grand array of suitcases and bags.

"You goin' somewhere?" 

She says in a loud Brooklyn accent. I look up in surprise and smile politely. She's a tall, broad woman who kind of looks like Whoopi Goldberg, with a warm face and kind eyes.

"Oh...yeah, we're going home." I look up in surprise and smile politely.

"Where's home?"


"How long you been here?" 

"3 months."

"3 months!" her expression suddenly breaks into a broad grin. "You got family here or su'um?'

"We've..." Greg and I exchange a look. "We've been staying with friends. In the city. It's been amazing."

She smiles down at me with a look I can only describe as maternal pride. "You have a safe flight now." She says and walks on. 

The moment she leaves, I turn to Greg and my hand shoots to my chest as a warm blossom of butterflies dance around my heart. He shoots me an expression that looks something like sympathy, but I know exactly what he means.

Even in the most frustrating part of our trip, stuck in the ass end of nowhere in a dingy Dunkin Donuts in Queens, a New Yorker has stunned us with their completely unexpected kindness and communal warmth.

I've endlessly waxed lyrical about the kindness of New Yorkers but even now, in the very final few moments, I'm still just as unprepared for and astounded by it. 

And suddenly my mood is revolutionised. As I wrote in my last post, I'm surprisingly so SO excited to leave New York and come home, but that brief interaction made me realise something even greater. New York is home to me, just as equally as my homeland is. And that's part of the reason I'm not sad about going. Because when you leave home, you always know you're coming back. Home is just your base from which you venture on from.

So it's not a goodbye. It's a BRB.

This is not an end of the best time of my life, it's the beginning of living the best life I could ever have. Every experience I have had, and every lesson I have learnt here, have just seemed to point toward one unavoidable truth:

If you want it, go get it.

From the date with a stranger who built himself up from nothing, the writing I found concealed on the walls of the apartment I was working on, the randomly prophetic woman in the downtown bar, and the countless other little occurrences I have yet to blog about - every single thing here seems to have in some way reinforced that one truth to titanium-clad status.

Maybe that's the one thing New York City was trying to tell me all along, just like Lady Fate, she was saying 'prove to me that you deserve it, and I will give you all you can dream of.'

'If I can make it there,  I'll make it anywhere.
It's up to you, New York, New York.'

This might be the end, and by tomorrow morning I will be stood on home turf, thousands of miles from the home I have made here, but this is nothing but a beginning. 

I am coming home from the heat of a New York City summer to the cool British autumn without a penny or responsibility to my name, and however scary that may be, my future is now solely in my hands. From the very bottom, it's now my destiny to build myself up from scratch, with the city and my community behind me, to be everything I want to be and more. 

For in wealth I am the poorest I have ever been, but in passion, in spirit, in love and in experience, I feel perhaps the richest person on earth. 

And just as I am putting the finishing touches on this post, a woman sitting on the table behind us turns around in her chair and calls 'Where you off to then?' and I chat with her for about 20 minutes before she bades us a goodbye, a safe flight and leaves us with her wishes that we are able to return again.

And I think my heart is about to explode.