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22 June 2014

Dear New York City

The sun's been glowing in Brighton recently and it's been absolutely magical. Yesterday, my friends and I set up camp on the beach in a pebbly spot past the pier, near to Concorde 2, barbecqued prawns and nibbled on an assortment of snacks. I was feeling a little worse for wear from the night before but as the Victorians knew back in the 18th century, the Brighton sea is a revitaliser. Today I've been thinking about the home of another Brighton beach - New York City. If you've read any of my other posts, you'll be aware of how much I mire in nostalgia. This is no exception. After watching the latest Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with SJP, I couldn't help but wonder... about the first time I stepped foot in the city.
As a chica growing up, NYC featured prominently in my life. With every film, TV show and song exploring the depths of the concrete jungle, my fascination grew for what it would be like to visit this glittering Mecca of my dreams. Cheesy as it sounds, after securing a place at the UMass Amherst for my year abroad, I knew my dream would finally come true. 
Before arrival, I was bemused. How as a student, with very little money, would I get the true Manhattan experience? How could I possibly follow in the footsteps of the fabulous and petulant Carrie Bradshaw, with Jimmy Choos to navigate the sidewalks of Soho, when I could barely afford Target sandals. I pondered. Would I feel the Central Perks of the Villages or find myself with an Empire State of Mind? Or would it be a case of New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down? The first step was my transport. For $59, I was on the Peter Pan bus cruising south through New England. Luckily for me, a friend from my years in Texas had taken up residence in Astoria, Queens, while studying at Parsons — the fashion school from Project Runway — and offered me a place to stay. After a tearful reunion, we set out to see the sights.
On day one we trawled the villages: East, West and Greenwich. On the way there, I stood next to Olivia Wilde on the subway. In the pleasant heat we witnessed an Occupy Wall Street protest, which struck quite a chord with me, and not just because of the awful guitar being played by a man wearing a severe amount of camo. Later, we ascended to Lana's friend's rooftop in Williamsburg and played beer pong basking in the light of the Manhattan skyline. I almost cried. 
On day two, feeling slightly weary and awestruck, HSBC decided to block my debit card - really helpful, cheers. Now I truly had NO money, although I did have an unlimited subway ticket. Lana had to be at school all day so Jesse, her flamboyant friend, and I dragged ourselves to Grand Central and took photos inside its beautiful walls, before strolling abruptly through Times Sq (one cannot briskly walk through), and then onto the rooftop of the Met. All about dem sweeping views of this wondrous island. Satisfied and lethargic, we laid in Central Park watching the clouds go by and I felt truly content. As time wore on, he had to leave me to have dinner with a friend in Harlem, and so I headed south to Battery Park to go the Statue of Liberty. I'd just about reached the ferry station when a certain Google intern gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
He was a guy Lana and I had bumped into on the subway from Bedford Ave on Friday night. He was chatting with his friend, who turned out to be from Brighton (, England that is - whodathunkit) and after she departed we talked and talked until he left in a curly-haired, big-eyed blur. With a sigh we concluded that we would never see him again. How shocked we were, then, when we spotted him on the same platform as us on Saturday night. Coming from different places, we had collided into each other again and this time I felt brave enough to ask for his number. It seemed like fate. Flash forward to day three and the Californian invites me to see the Book of Mormon on Broadway as he had rushed tickets and got two box seats for $30 each. How could I say no? Surely I could borrow the money from Lana. Quickly, I ran, down escalators, and upstairs to reach the other end of New York for the show. I was Cinderella running through the neon walls of Times Square to meet my prince. Okay, slightly dramatic, but you catch my drift.

The show was amazing. Afterwards, we meandered through the bright lights and Naked Cowboys to my friend’s school, where the Google intern left me once again in a curly-haired, big-eyed blur. Not before paying for my ticket, like a true Prince Charming in a city of fabulous gay men, pigeons and lady Liberty herself.

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