Sleepless in New York

It is Sunday and I am not in bed and not at home. I am in New York! Despite being a faithful Londoner, I have a particular weakness for the city that never sleeps (which, by the way, is a myth. Right now, at 7 am on Sunday morning the entire city sleeps – and fast! Not until late morning will the New Yorkers rise and flock into the countless restaurants and brasseries for a brunch cappuccino and eggs benedict or French toast).

My inner clock has me awake at this time and I enjoy being the only one to have watched the sun rise beautifully into a warm spring day. I sit on a wooden bench at the High Line Park, a large cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun next to me and reflect on the past few days.

It is a relief to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and clear my head. There is much I need to think about and some difficult decisions lie before me. Before this day is over, I will have to decide whether I will give me ex another chance or not. But before I come to that, I need to figure out how I got to be here in the first place.

It was on Friday, late evening, when my phone rang and I heard a voice so familiar that it made my heart miss a beat. This voice had once been as close to me as my own. Once. I hadn’t spoken to Julian in more than six months and yet… I felt as connected as if we had never stopped being in love. Well, we hadn’t – not voluntarily anyway.

Julian and I had been dating for over a year, when the law firm he works for, needed a strong advisor in New York. The job offer had come with a sizeable cheque as well as a tremendous career boost and Julian had seized the chance and accepted. At that time we had been very much in love and everything had seemed possible. But when he made his decision so quickly and without seriously consulting me, something fell apart in me (I know, he is a guy and for guys the career is tremendously important. And they don’t think as much about relationships as we do – but still…).

Was this the same man that I had given my heart? Was this the man that had made me laugh and cry and dream? I had looked forward to getting to know him better, spend more time with him and – who knows – one day… but he had decided to go. For some reason we had never discussed if I wanted to go with him. This would have been a big step for me, a commitment that I wasn’t ready to make.

With his decision, our days were counted. At first we tried to pretend that nothing had changed and enjoy the precious time that was left. But somehow we both knew that we would not keep a relationship going across the Atlantic and sadness crept into our time together. It broke my heart to see Julian cry when we said goodbye at the airport – but then nothing of this would have happened if… never mind, these thoughts didn’t help now.

I had never answered my phone when his number showed up again and he had taken the hint quickly and stopped calling altogether. Surely, it was better to close this sad chapter of my life once and for all? They say it is better to end something in pain then feel pain without end… All this flashed through my mind when I heard him softly say my name that Friday night and it momentarily left me speechless.

Is six months enough to fall out of love? I had certainly tried my best and my friends had not allowed me a single lonely moment for weeks after Julian had left the country. And, slowly, life seemed to seep back into my veins and laughter sounded less false and hollow to me. I had taken up dating again, first under the stern supervision of Kate and James, later on my own and – to my own surprise, it had revived the butterflies that I thought had died in my stomach that day on the airport.

I had never been able to forget Julian entirely, but the memory of him had grown more distant with the months and I had thought that my feelings for him had slowly but surely ebbed away. How wrong I had been! One word – my name, spoken tenderly in his low voice, made me stagger under the weight of the emotions that suddenly crushed in on me. I had to breathe hard to regain composure (be careful when you do – hyperventilating is not exactly a sign of confidence and ease).

The rest is quickly recounted. He said that he had tried to forget me in vain, that he missed me. He wanted another chance and he had booked me a ticket to come over to New York to celebrate his birthday with him – on Saturday (yes, correct, this was less than 24 hours from now, but Julian had always had this spontaneous streak).

What can I say?

Within a few minutes I had thrown my hard earned emotional independence over board and agreed to go. I had not phoned my friends (who would have skinned me alive – rightly so), packed, unpacked and re-packed five times and after a sleepless night full of memories, fear and a tiny sliver of hope I had scribbled a note for Kate and left for Heathrow.

6 cappuccinos, various futile attempts at sleep, a Vogue and a few glasses of bubbly later, I was in New York, had checked into the Plaza, had a blow-out and a manicure and thrown myself into a cherry blossom pink silk-tulle dress with matching peep toe sling-backs. Despite the fact that I hadn’t slept, I looked a vision of spring and romance when I arrived at the Ai Fiori on 5th, where Julian had booked a table for us to celebrate his 37th birthday and – we would have to see to that – a possible reunion.

He was there. I saw him as soon as I entered the room and his effect on me had never been more powerful. God, how I had missed him.

We had spent Saturday night at ease with each other. It had taken less than an hour for us to snap back into our familiar tone. We had exchanged stories about our life these past months (carefully skirting episodes involving other people) and occasionally and carefully reminisced about our mutual past. The evening had flown by in a flurry of champagne, delicious Ligurian food and flirtatious glances and at the end Julian had taken me to his penthouse apartment and we had slowly and passionately made love.

I woke before sunrise. Where I had felt warm and content yesterday night, a nagging uncertainty had taken place. Doubts kept creeping up. I stole out of Julian’s warm and tender embrace and silently dressed. My diary under my arm I stepped out into the cool night that was just beginning to give way to another beautiful sunny day.

And now…? Now I am sitting here and don’t know what to do. Julian has asked me to stay and I have said that I needed time to think. What shall I do? Give up my life in London? Start a career in New York? I could do that. But then… would I not be living his dreams, his life? What about my dreams? How much should we give up for love? Relationships between two individuals do require compromises – always. But there is a limit. I love this man. But I need to be myself, live my life, dream my dreams and make them come true. Can I do this if I move to New York for love? Surely, there are worse things in life than being asked by the man you love to move into the greatest city in the world to be with him? And yet… yet there is this nameless feeling of dread.

What shall I do?



Having skidded headlong into my thirties, completely unprepared for what was expecting me, has probably been the best that has ever happened to me. Dating has never been more intriguing - life has never been more amazing! Laugh and cry with me on my way through the often fantastic and sometimes abysmal London dating scene…

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