smoke & mirrors

Murano Glass, The Victoria & Albert Museum

They say if you travel far enough you find yourself.

I'm not sure who "they" is exactly, but they're onto something.

Sometimes, thousands of miles from who you were, you'll come across something reveals exactly who you are. 

It might not be so surprising that a New York city girl could bump into her true self again across the pond in London.

london and new york have been competing to be center of the universe for sometime now. In both, you can ultimately find just about anything you might be searching for. Both are home to world-class theatre and entertainment and some of the finest dining on the planet. both have thriving fashion scnees, and a vibrant nightlife. and It's certainly no coincidence that on both sides of the Atlantic you can sip on bubbly in Chelsea or grab Thai food in Soho. 

That said, The Big Apple and The Big Smoke certainly aren't one in the same. Shuffling between the skyscrapers and side streets of Manhattan, certainly contrasts strolling the broad avenues and winding lanes of London Town. The armor I usually put on to board the c train at rush hour, is rendered unnecessary on the ever-so-civil and quiet tube ride into Central London. Your schedule will need adjusting between the two cities as well. While most New Yorkers wouldn't dare be spotted having dinner before 9 o'clock on a weeknight, Londoners are already stuffed and three pints deep. good luck finding many lively watering-holes past midnight on a Tuesday in London; This is a city that chooses to sleep. 

So though the similarities exist, London and New York are of course two exceptionally unique places. Which is why my discovering a sense of belonging amid  the double-decker buses and hackney carriages, had less to do with the city itself, and more to do with who I was able to be when i got there there.

i think it's true; you can take the girl out the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl. 

nursing a pint at a Shoreditch pub with old New York pals, or perusing the racks of designer boutiques with a new friend from Finchley, I couldn't have felt more at ease.

An unexpected visit from my parents (one prompted by my having emergency surgery the day after I arrived. nbd.)  felt just like days spent together in manhattan. i found myself delighting in giggly chat over fruity cocktails with an old schoolmate, and even (wait for it) went on a proper date. a dapper London gentleman and one too many gins made for a pretty lovely evening.

all of this familiarity - AFTER MONTHS OF TRAVEL, UNCERTAINY, ADVENTURE, OUT OF THE-BLUE-SURGERY - WAS JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED.

I am, without question, blessed to BE ABLE TO hop from country to country on utter whim, discovering ALL THAT I DO along the way.

BUT now and then, the journey can FEEL unclear and, of course, a little lonely. SOMETIMES I CAN'T HELP BUT wonder what it is I WENT searching for in the first place...

But with a bit of patience, AN EXCESS OF Faith AND A FEW KEY MOMENTS OF COURAGE, I WANDER BACK INTO THE CLARITY I SOUGHT TO FIND.

BACK TO A ME I ONCE knew and YET AM still getting to know; A ME that, somehow, AMIDST ALL THE PASSPORT STAMPS, has ALWAYS ended up exactly where I'M meant to be. 

H. X

If you don’t get lost, there’s a chance you’ll never be found.
— Author Unknown
Helen Hayden