Sanoop’s Homecoming, NYC Weekend | 18-240219

Happiness, Togetherness. On Tuesday, I’m woken up by butterflies basking in my stomach. I think back to October, even June, when we didn’t know exactly what the path ahead would look like. So many logistical and emotional things to sort out – or just get through. Now we’re here: Sanoop has a visa, and we’re finally going to be here, in our flat, in our new hometown, together. I am so grateful. I’ve been trying so hard, and partly succeeding, to nurture a feeling of happiness alone in the flat, needing, and constantly receiving, reassurance that Sanoop was fine, but, now, instantly, the feeling hits me with a bam: excitement. He is here! We go to work together – we go home from work together – we cook dinner together – do life admin together at the dining table after dinner. Light candles, listen to music. Morning yoga. Sanoop’s morning chai. Old rituals, new settings. My colleagues meet him and are so happy for us as they’ve been following our story; it’s so heart-warming to see and feel their joy on our behalf. We meet for lunch, meet for afternoon walks around the Canal and Coal Drops Yard, laughing like little kids as we try out the musical see-saws. I share with him how increasingly confident in my job I feel day by day, and he shares his insights and advice when I ask for it. Support. Thursday night, we watch A Star Is Born in a cinema near Piccadilly Circus and take the bus all the way home to Hampstead afterwards. Friday, after my morning run with a large group of sweet girls along the Thames, I head down to Belgravia to run an errand at the German embassy. Walk through the whipped cream beauty of that area, all of those white buildings, neat gardens, and that special magical light, smell, sense when the chilly morning mists lifts to reveal a balmy sunshiny day. It’s 16 degrees! Once I’m done at the embassy, Sanoop and I meet at the Google office in the area, work at a small table in the indoor park, meet two friends for lunch, leave around 4pm for a golden hour walk around the beautiful area, marvelling at the cherry blossoms and crocuses in bloom at Eaton Square. We meander down through Chelsea, across pastel-coloured Albert Bridge in the most stunning, romantic sunset, which feels like spring, feels like complete happiness, through Battersea Park, checking out the Peace Pagoda, the Buddha statues, drink a glass of wine at Vagabond, have dinner dinner at a couple of friends’ place – Swedish-Austrian guy and American girl; she’s a diplomat, which is why they are here … and live in such a beautiful flat in one of the sculptural new-builds by the power station. Such a joyful evening, carried joyfully by fun, easy chitchat, first standing around kitchen counter and drinking chilled white wine and nibbling on delicious ratatouille, hummus, olives and flatbread, which she brought back from a quick trip to Athens, and then around the dining table, over a delicious vegan Ottolenghi dish. Late taxi home. I’m travelling to New York early Saturday morning for a UX Fest next week. When I booked the trip, we weren’t sure when Sanoop would be back, so I thought I’d include the weekend, as it means I can join his nephew’s 9th birthday party, but just now, it feels hard to leave him. It’s spring time in London, I crave waking up with him and just letting the day unfold spontaneously in our ‘hood. But I find comfort in knowing how at home he feels here … how he can spend the weekend making it his home even more …

Manhattan Solo Saturday. Land around noon … usual excitement in taxi from JFK … staying at funky Gansevoort Meatpacking … a bit tacky, but I love it … room comes with balcony … heated pool on the roof … and it’s located just across from the office… I spend the afternoon pottering around – picking up a salad at Chelsea Market, people-watching, getting coffee from Blue Bottle, walking over to Home Depot on 6th and 23rd to buy purple lily bulbs, a bag of  soil and a pot (the kid’s biggest birthday wish, when I asked him a month ago, is a lily or rose to grow in his room!). I find a cute card from the sweetest children’s bookstore, Books of Wonder. Walk back downtown to just relax for a bit in my room. Around dinner time, I meet a colleague at her hotel, the Maritime, and together we walk over to ABCV by Union Square to feast on vegan food. Meander through charming West Village back for an early night. I’m glad I have her; I’m glad I get some alone time too.

Hastings Family Sunday. You know you’re in New York City when there’s a barre studio in your hotel gym … and you know you’re jet lagged when you’re alone in the giant studio! I jump out of bed at 6am, put on my yoga gear and the sleek hotel robe and then make my way downstairs to do my five Tibetans and a long, thorough barre routine. Feeling alone in the world, in the most blissful of ways. Long, soothing shower. Pack my bag and step outside, planning to walk up to Grand Central, but opting for a taxi as it’s pouring down heavily. This gives me 1.5 hours at the station, time enough to enjoy a yummy freshly baked bagel, coffee and the Sunday Times at the Great Northern Food Hall, before embarking on the 9:20am train to Hastings-on-Hudson. It’s a childhood dream come true to take a train from this station… this indeed grand structure, full of so much history, so many stories, myriads of people coming and going from so many places… in and out of this mythical city. I make sure to savour every second of the experience, hehe. The rain subsides while I’m hanging out in the Food Hall, leaving the river view from the train in a heavy white mist … Sanoop’s sister-in-law picks me up with big hugs and smiles at the station… Her son turns 9 tomorrow, we celebrate it today, and he’s decided on a plant theme. Both of his parents’ sweet cousins come over with their toddlers, everyone adhering to the dress code and wearing green or flowery prints, and we all get to plant our own succulent in old yoghurt pots. He and I plant the lily bulbs. There are cakes, sandwiches, tea and craft beer, we light a fire, and we chat and play games and the piano all afternoon. In the evening, once the guests have left and the kids are fast asleep, Sanoop’s brother, sister-in-law and I sit down with a bottle of red wine and a lovely long talk… ahh! I feel so grateful to have family in New York; such a lovely new dimension added to my experience of the city.

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