I had pictured myself landing in NYC, elated and energized, quickly in and out of the airport and straight into a yellow cab, cruising over the bridge into Manhattan watching the sun set over the breathtaking skyline.
In reality, the plane descended through a torrential thunder storm; flashing lights and sheets of rain struck the windows, and I felt positively nauseous by the time we bumped down onto the runway.
An hour of waiting in immigration and I was finally free – until I spotted the taxi line which over-spilled the standard barrier and wrapped obnoxiously around the length of JFK’s arrivals terminal.
Another hour later, tired and achy, but still fueled by anticipatory adrenaline, I rode my taxi into the city. Any views were thwarted by the unrelenting downpour; the rain was pounding so hard that it splashed back from the pavements in perfectly formed V-shapes, cartoon-like in appearance.
Now dark, I arrived at my serviced apartment on the Upper East Side, which would be my home for the next 30 days as part of my relocation package through work. The not-particularly-friendly doorman handed me keys and paperwork in an A3 envelope and I excitedly took the elevator to the 8th floor.
I was worried to see somewhat gloomy and run down corridors, but when I entered the apartment I was pleasantly surprised. With 2 large square bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms, it was huge. The walls were white, the furniture cream, black and silver, and the floors were thin slatted wood, which are typical of older New York apartments. The whole place had a slightly dated, 70s art deco feel. I loved that I could hear the hum of the city from every room, even with the windows closed.
I had pre-arranged dinner that night with my friend, a lovely girl I met on my Jewish birthright trip to Israel 3 years prior. To this day I am so grateful that she braved the horrific (and I mean horrific) weather to meet me. I put on all the warm clothes I had brought with me, which were few and far between (the previous week in New York had been tropical – despite it being October!). After giving my pal a quick tour of the apartment we hit the streets, hugging under an umbrella and battling icy winds.
We ducked into the closest place we could find: Chipotle; the completely un-gourmet, global Mexican chain restaurant, in which I had dined several times in London. Subsequently, the long awaited, much anticipated, first culinary adventure in my new NY home consisted of very average chicken, salad, chips and guac (although their guacamole is pretty zesty and satisfying I must say). The food, and the weather, could only get better from here!
We sat opposite each other on high chairs and talked quickly like gossiping school girls. She filled me in on her ups and downs of New York living (she was new to the city too) and I asked lots of questions. It was incredibly comforting to have a friend, and anchor to home, living in the same city, and especially so to have her with me on this strange, unsettled night.
But despite the savage storm, the arguably ‘fast food’ and the exhaustion, my insides were practically bursting with joy and excitement, and I couldn’t fathom wanting to be anywhere else in the world. I had finally, finally done it. I had made the move.