When the first baby laughed for the first time…

…its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about.

And that was the beginning of fairies.

-J.M.Barrie

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Hush

The door clicks shut and there is silence. 

Stop.

Helicopter blades chopping through the night air, thick varnished leaves squeaking against the brick wall, and the rustle of rough bristled curtains. 

Alone.

This is the first moment in three weeks. Exhale. Feel the breath tunnel through your pursed lips and find joy in your puffed, hot cheeks. Everything washing over you in a wave of yesterdays. A montage of faces smiling, singing, slurring, blurring into one. A myriad of places, of mountains and deserts, of boardwalks and sidewalks, and females with feathers.

Blink and you see computer screens and limousines and taxi cabs careening down tarmac, shrieking a blaring note that locals ignore. 

Blink and starry skin is wrapped around your waist, and you grin with a FLASH and the moment is gone. 

Wink at the next girl you see because you share in secret love the city that won’t sleep, just hurls you into tomorrow. Wave it hello and plunge back in. 

Blink and yesterdays line up like ghostly spectres, fluttering and whispering and reminding you of their past lives. 

Hush.

Blink and bright lights dance along lids, winking you into sleep that won’t rest your bones – because in your dreams you danceIMG_6095[1]

Life in a New York Minute: Part 4

By Day Four in New York I had got this notion into my head: I HAD to go and see the flower market. With no real idea of what to expect there, I was largely basing this whim on all the travel blogs and tv shows I’ve seen that display glorious pictures of endless fields of flowers. So we hauled our tired behinds out of bed and braved the sweating, heaving metro filled with morning commuters to get to 28th Street.

1239929_10200548478856111_360140350_nIt was one of the strangest streets I’ve ever been on. Here in Britain, flower markets aren’t generally a tourist attraction. They take place in the early morning and they’re predominantly for business men and women to trawl in the hopes of finding stock. Like fish markets, they don’t seem to make the list for ‘must-see’ destinations.

But if you are ever in New York, you should go along to 28th Street. The pavements are literally lined with trees; orange bushes and buckets of firecracker flowers I had never before seen screening pedestrians from the road. I found myself reaching out to touch the beautiful velvety folds of a plant, transfixed by the pure alien-ness of it. We entered shops 1233629_10200548481336173_200418687_ncautiously, with men calling out in an Italian tongue that lay heavy and fast on our ears, and found ourselves in warehouses that reached back further than we could see. The colours were blazing, the shapes twisted and elegant, the stalks thick, proud and covered with dew.

Just before we left the street, emerging amazed at the other end, I saw a small shop with buckets lined outside the front door – the picture is just to the right. They were my favourite flowers of the day. Like fireworks frozen in nature, they simply popped. 

From there we wandered around countless streets, through Chinatown, before finding ourselves in Little Italy. It looked like Christmas to me, with red, white and green tinsel dangling from one side of the street to the other: a city ready for Santa Claus. Tanned, dark haired men beckoned you in to their restaurants, promises of pizza and pasta and an ice cold glass of water difficult to resist.

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But there was no way we would stop here for pizza. We had another goal in mind.

Finally, after what felt like miles, we found ourselves at the Brooklyn Bridge, joining the throngs of people on bikes, tourists clutching cameras, and determined women striding forward in suits. It sounds corny and obvious but it was JUST like all the movies: one of those moments when being in New York really hits you.

I never imagined I would really be here. (The one with the beard and the camera is obviously not me)

I never imagined I would really be here. (The one with the beard and the camera is obviously not me)

It’s a much longer bridge than you’d think. The wooden slats under feet start to burn in the extreme heat, but every step closer to Brooklyn feels like a success. You find yourself forever looking up and around you, wanting to absorb every brick, every wire suspending the giant structure, every bolt in the railings. The well-known skyline of New York unfolds behind you (though more of that later).

SO worth it.

SO worth it.

Remember our seemingly foolish refusal of pizza? Frank Sinatra was a pizza man. He was actually quite famous for being a pizza man. In fact, he liked a certain pizza so much that when on tour he would order it and have it flown out to him. This pizza came from the restaurant we made a beeline for on entering Brooklyn: Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. And on trying some for myself, I have to agree with Frank. It was some of the best pizza I had ever eaten. And the fact that it was huge and conveniently placed before me after our five hour trek down through New York city didn’t hurt.

* * *

Tummies full and hearts heavy with glutted sin, we left Grimaldi’s and wandered over the river bank. I loved this place. From here the skyline of New York spanned from left to right across the blue rippling ribbon. Yellow taxi boats skimmed from one shore to the next. Grass lined the bank where couples and students and families lounged back on their elbows with food scattered around them. And along the way, in the shadow of the beautiful, breath taking, industrial Manhattan Bridge, a dainty bride took the hand of her new husband and stood on the shore line for photos in front of an excited crowd.

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* * *

That evening was our last one in New York City. We spent it the way it should always be spent: in the front row of a broadway show, singing our hearts out and dancing for an encore.

Late that night, we strolled our way through Times Square and back to the hotel, the harsh lights of the plaza blinking behind our eyelids as we slipped into sleep.

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Life in a New York Minute : Prologue

‘Don’t put ONE MORE THING into that suitcase!’

With a pout, my sister reluctantly lowered the lid and drew the zip closed. There were thirteen muffled thumps as she pulled it down the stairs and to the car. Rushing past her, I grabbed my bag and a couple of cds and bustled my way to the front seat. Within seconds I had strapped myself in and was beaming at Ma as she turned the key.

The hours slipped by as we zoomed along one long road after another, speakers humming with music and dashboards burning in the heat. There was something in the air that afternoon – a heaviness – a mugginess that was electric with the promise of cool winds and thunder.

A flickering at the corner of my eye stirred me from my stupor. A dandelion seed was dancing in the air, skipping and twirling on the breeze that whispered through the crack of an open window.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

When I was young I used to believe that these seeds were wishes. I would catch one on the wind with my chubby fists, crumpling it in my haste, and tell it my wish, lips barely moving so no one could guess what I was asking for. When I let it go, I would blow it out of my palm and watch it floating to the skies, where it would carry my wish to some place magical. And down on the concrete, in my summer school dress, I would squint at the sun and wait for it to come true.

And here it was again. I hadn’t caught a wish for years and yet I held one now in the cage of my hand, on my way to a place with real magic, a place throbbing with it. With a smile, I put my hand out of the window and let it go. I had nothing to wish for.

Further on and I saw a field of gold. Weaves of amber waved in the breeze and mimicked the shine of a sun beam. A lone rider with a graceful arched back and pointed chin guided a magnificent white horse. I glanced at the endless stream of cars all around me and wondered if I were the only one to have seen the pair, knowing I was.

1235065_10200548311251921_589521997_nThe journey slowed as we neared our destination. High pitched squeaks of excitement came from the back seat and eager fingers pointed to the sky, picking out planes and speculating which one we would be on the next morning.

One more stop before the journey begins: an overnight stay in a local hotel. A palace of marble and thick fluffy carpets, with rooms of endless sleigh beds and sinking white pillows. Complimentary birthday bottles of wine sent to the room to fuel the laughter and send us into a deep snooze before the alarm, shrieking at 5am, woke us to a new day. The cold grey of early morning stung our noses and clawed at our warm, sleepy bodies.

But we didn’t care. Because we were off.

We were going to New York City.

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