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After the calm the storm; after the storm the calm


We landed on US soil 10 days ago, and it has been a whirlwind introduction to NY city life. Health warning: please sit! Reading this might make you feel faint (or sic [sic]!).

We have opened a bank account with a current (“checking”) account and a credit card (Luca, at least) and learned how to write checks [sic], wire funds from the UK and tip every possible person who has served us in any way. We have got US phone contracts for our mobiles, and bought prepay metro cards. Luca has got a social security number, started work, received his first pay check [sic again](Im still not used to it); I have filled out forms for a work permit, which will take about 10 weeks to come, and applied for voluntary work on a listening project (‘Sidewalk Talk’), a foodbank ('Foodbank NYC’) and, just for fun, testing HelloFresh recipes. We have arranged health insurance. I have shopped in grocery stores, organic supermarkets, a farmers’ market, hardware stores, and thrift stores; and arranged 2 internet grocery deliveries. Spent a month's budget in a under a fortnight, on NY's phenomenal prices.

We have had our first dinner guest, Chris von Thelen, an American whom we know from home but who happened to be in New York for a couple days [sic]. Great bottle of wine, thank you, perfect to add to the fresh pasta dinner we rustled up. I have entertained my first coffee friend, Eileen, who is my new spiritual director for the Ignatian spiritual exercises. She brought cookies! (glad that is by now a UK concept, or I would have to have added [sic] again, in a most unfortunate way).

The first weekend we attended Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in the Carnegie Hall, with a 200 strong choir, orchestra and super soloists. I joined a theatre ticket discount group - qualifying for membership by my status as a 'freelancer’ - and bought discounted tickets for a jazz event on our second weekend at the Museum of Metropolitan Art (although this one we failed to attend, as I got my first super-all-american cold and was feeling really ill).

I have spent hours on the phone: sorting out problems, including with some of the apartment’s fixtures and with the laundry card; and, I am sorry to have to report, with FedEx. We received most of the boxes we sent over from the UK, in 4 different deliveries; two broken boxes contained smashed crockery and the one as yet undelivered box is, they tell me, 'empty’. Ah well, things are only things. At least we got here in one piece (each!).

We have walked in Central Park in the snow, seen hundreds of old-fashioned, pretty, groomed dogs, even with colourful rubber shoes on. Heard buskers with saxophone, didgeridoo, ukelele, violin, guitar, steel drums, panpipes, accordeon, voice. We have eaten Persian, Japanese, Italian, vegan, local and homemade. Met people from the USA, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, UK, Russia, Budapest, Albania, Poland, France, Switzerland and seen faces from many many cultures more varied than any UK place I have been. Enjoyed temperatures between 16˚ and -6˚, seen stunning blue sky and dull grey fog, snow and rain. Travelled uncounted metro stops, walked miles.

We have viewed nearly fify apartments online and gone to visit ten apartments in five different neighbourhoods, were rejected on one application but, after two long and late nights of filling out complex and opaque forms, been accepted on another.

So … we have found our new home!

Weeks ago in idyllic Switzerland I wrote about romantic things about home and heart: cherishing/ hospitality/ paying attention/ simple and special things/ friends. Easy to dream when you have headspace!

Whether be-storm-ed or be-calm-ed, I live in hope. Have to sit still and breathe deeply to survive at times, but it is gooooooood to be here.

Our 3 ‘children’ arrive in New York in the next few days, and we are going to enjoy a very special family Christmas.


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