I took a break from scuttling around the Big Smoke, swimming through crowds, navigating busy roads, scaling sky scrapers and eating scraps of street food to do the same in the Big Apple. It’s scary how similar the two cities are. Both feed off of the energy of the streets, where everything happens (not in the Manhattan sky scrapers where the suits live like money-bent vultures). Art is everywhere: in every corner shop, every back alley, plastered on the side of buildings and hanging in the many galleries all over town, lyrically floating through the subway caves and blasting from the rooftop gardens. Walking down the street feels cinematic in itself. But whereas London feels to me a seamless map of history as you pass from one end to the other, New York changes from street to street. It is a city comprised of immigrants of many different nationalities who’s unique flavour make up areas and communities that are ‘American’ only technically. Everything from the food sold to the clothes worn to the music played – even the pace of the day, the ferociousness of the traffic and the colour of everything on suburban streets where houses are as differently designed as you can imagine – dramatically changes as you pass through. London is a city of immigrants too, but is still unmistakably English with its old buildings and roads. So this was the main contrast to home: foreign culture did not feel suppressed in any visible way but roamed freely and comfortably.
I will miss how acceptable it was to eat breakfast at any time of the day. I will miss free coffee refills and chocolate chip cookies the size of my head. I’ll miss endless free concerts and subway music with the backdrop of the city at night time. I’ll miss public transport being half the price it is here. I’ll miss the blissful immunity of not having to watch the UK news and think about what’s going to happen in the next five years. I’ll miss those cute little birds all over town and not just seeing big fat dirty pigeons, although I’ve got a soft spot for them creatures here. I’ll miss the rats the size of guinea pigs on the subway tracks.
But it’s good to be home.