Smoke & Mirrors

They say if you travel far enough you can find yourself. I'm not sure who "they" is exactly, but they're onto something. Sometimes, thousands of miles from the life you once knew, you happen upon something wonderfully familar. 

Murano Glass, The Victoria & Albert Museum

It might not come with great surprise that a New York girl could find herself once more just across the pond in London. These two great cities have been competing to be center of the universe for quite 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, some of the finest dining on the planet, the cutting edge of fashion, and some of the most exclusive and sought after nightlife around. It's certainly no coincidence that on both sides of the Atlantic you can sip on some bubbly in Chelsea or grab some Thai in Soho . Whatever you're craving, you can find it somewhere in these two meccas of indulgence.

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 armour I usually put on to board the A train at rush hour, is rendered unnecessary on the ever-so-civil and quiet tube ride into Central London. Your schedule will need adjusting 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 similar in size and variety, London and New York are indeed two very unique places. Which is why my discovering a sense of belonging amid double-decker buses and hackney carriages, had less to do with the city itself, and more to do with who I was once again able to be there. It must be true then - you can take the girl out the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl. 

Whether I found myself 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 felt just like days spent together in midtown - enjoying a bite and each other's company before heading out to some new play or musical... Here, in London, I  suddenly found myself delighting in giggly chat and fruity cocktails with an old schoolmate, and even (just wait for it) on a proper date, complete with a dashing London gentleman and one too many gins. (Make sure you pack your heels ladies - you just might stumble upon your very own Mr. Parker...)

You see, when your life becomes a series of new destinations and endless uncertainty, and the mattress beneath you is changing every few days, I can't tell you what it means to feel - even if just for a moment - as if you belong. I am, without question, hugely blessed to hop from country to country on utter whim, discovering all manner of treasure along the way. However, now and then, the journey can get unclear and, of course, a little lonely. You're left wondering just what it is you came searching for in the first place. But with a bit of patience, a dash of courage, and a heap of faith, you just might stumble into something quite clear indeed. It seems that if you keep wandering far enough, you can catch a glimpse of just what it is you were hoping to find... someone you knew and are still getting to know; someone that, somehow, has ended up exactly where they're meant to be. X

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

Click the Image below to scroll through some of my shots from London.

Helen Hayden1 Comment