Love is like a butterfly

You are too big to miss for a day, too loud, too busy, too many words on the end of the phone. I couldn’t feel you in a day. But over many days?

Over many days, the full impact slowly rams me down to the ground and I’ve been left winded, ribs caved in, bruises blossoming on my chest like defiant lavender.

Over many days I replay summer afternoons, lost slippers. I remember the answer to the Sunday crossword, the one that had us chewing our pens and sharing a biscuit – 6 down: artichoke. I tell other people about that time you fell off your chair, and we laugh together. My face feels tight.

Over many days a small crystal tear forms in the back of my eye. It is like a shard of glass, nestled in deep, and I can’t seem to cry it out. I carry it with me like a hidden dagger, only sometimes it shows itself. In the silence, in the grey days, it pokes free and glints back at me in the mirror.

Today is one of those days. Today you have consumed the sky and blacked out the sun, filled the inverted blue cup with criss-crossed fairy lights and wispy lace scarves.

I know this won’t be the only day, I know you will spill out into a thousand others and knock me senseless again.

I know I will wake up and think of your curled fingers waving through the air, conducting a silent orchestra; I know I will seek out breakfast and find myself singing Dolly Parton with you as you make a cup of tea.

And I know, that as I go to hang up the phone, I will hear your voice on the other end calling out ‘Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.’

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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]

Reading Romance

To me, words are the most romantic thing in this world. They lay bare the secrets of the heart and joys of the soul, and birth them for the ears and eyes of anyone who would care to be a part of them. You are a part of these words, right now. You are a part of my romance.

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Miles away in Cyprus is a sleek blue card. Early this morning, it was opened by the man I love, who would have read my soul and smiled. I told him of love and happiness and the future; I painted with ink a canvas bursting with love and gave it to him for his travels. In it I wrote, Happy third year anniversary. 

In those words, I see the whole story of our love. 

I see the beginning, sitting on a boat in the setting sun as planes fly through fog overhead and light up clouds with flashes of green and purple. 

I see the family dinners, with his Grandpa winking at me as he slipped me an extra slice of cake and cousins grinning uncomfortably in the corner. 

I see holidays to bustling cities and blistering beaches.

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I see baklava atop a cliff. 

I see learning and essays and successes at university. 

I see our flat, with the purple fluffy rug you hate, and all the wisps of it that has now been tread into our carpet so it looks like a mottled sea.

I see movies and jigsaws and bottles of wine and boardgames. 

I see night time dancing in an abandoned shopping mall, laughter echoing in the silence as we slip over tiles and spin around escalators.

I see a blurred smile on a computer screen, miming out the words I love you.

On that thin slip of shiny card there lay exposed all that has been, all that is and all that will be, through the eyes of the woman who has loved him. Histories and stories and promises. On the one day of the year I long more than ever to be with him, there is no way that I possibly could be. So I gave him the next best thing.

My words.

My romance.

My thank you, for my Happy Ever After.

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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: Part Three

There is no going to New York without eating breakfast in a god’s honest American Diner. Which is where you would have found us on our second morning: perusing a menu and revelling in the fact that eating pancakes WITH bacon wouldn’t be seen as weird in this magical place not called home.

breakfast

 

…I won’t lie. I had a distinctly uncomfortable feeling as though I was carrying a football around in my belly for the rest of the morning, but it was worth it. Bacon. And Pancakes. That is all.

dinosaurWe then headed Uptown to the Natural History Museum, just about managing to duck inside as the first warm droplets of rain splashed down on the sidewalk. It’s one of those buildings that you can get lost in. Everywhere you look there is marble and giant replicas of impressive dinosaurs and mammoth bones bigger than the tallest man in the room. Sweeping staircases lure you onto one floor, plunge you down to the next, tease you up to the top until your head is spinning and you are so dizzy you have to take a seat. Which we did. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the building under a domed starry sky, listening to Whoopi Goldberg as she took us through space and time.

When I was a child, I used to dream of being an astronaut. My dad bought me a planetarium, with plastic planets that you could paint and fit onto spikes that stretched out from the torch-sun, and that you could spin around in orbits. It even came with a cap for the sun, with constellations on it that you could project onto your ceiling at night. The show we watched catapulted me into space and reminded me of that dream, zoomed me into the void to come face to face with those constellations I had cooed over as a child. It was incredible.

Funnily enough, when we exited, if anything we were more dizzy than when we had entered.

There was a beautiful tower somewhere on the ‘fossil floor’; a beautiful circular structure with curved benches that you could rest on. We took a pew and looked out over Central Park. How could anyone get tired of this view? It was just – and remains to this day – astounding to me that such a clear cut pocket of green can make such a unique and beautiful stamp on a city so big and so utterly consuming. It was as if I was watching the leafy green heart of the concrete body that is New York pulsing fiercely, churning out the life force of the city, pumping blood and oxygen through its veins.

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That afternoon was a splash through the northern part of the park, ducking under trees for shelter and ultimately giving up and rushing, drenched, to a local bar where Ma settled in for a beer, and us two girls smacked our parched lips over an ice cold water.

horse and carriage 2It wasn’t until dusk, when the rain had stopped, the streets were dry, and our feet had stopped throbbing with pain, that we hopped on the metro like locals so as to clamber aboard a horse and carriage like tourists, and get a royal view of the park. We trotted past runners and cyclists and goggle eyed children, bouncing slightly on our velveteen seats, and waving like the Queen of England before we realised probably no one would get the reference.

horse and carriage

And the day wasn’t over yet! We still made it to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where we enjoyed our food whilst the waiters performed show songs, dancing on tables and shaking their collection hats for extra singing and dancing lessons. Each one of them were Broadway hopefuls, and I loved that they spent their evenings working to reach their dream, winning over the hearts of the customers and belting out their passions over mac and cheese. It was also the place where I had my first slice of red velvet cake, so naturally, I’m going to sing it’s praises.

dinerThe table to our left had four of the most friendly people I had ever met. They were all from Louisiana and were on a one day stopover between travelling – they’d been to Italy, Spain, France, and England, and were passing through the Big Apple on their way home. They told us fantastic stories about their travels and wished me a happy birthday over cake. One of the women told me to come back to the diner, that she had been three times and she loved it every time – and that I would one day see HER on Broadway. I can say with all the honesty in my heart, that I cannot wait for that day.

We rounded off the day with an evening at the very top of the Empire State Building. Yet another maze to pass through, the view once you get to the top speaks for itself. There is a reason it is a landmark of New York. And a reason it became one of the landmarks of our holiday.

For this one though, I’ll let the picture do the talking.

empire view

If you missed the other instalments of Life in a New York Minute and want to catch up, you can start with the very first page of the story here.

LONDON BOUND! The Adventures of Sam ‘n’ Ella (Pt. 3)

We are nearing the end of our whistle stop city tour of London. If you’ve missed any of the previous installments (of which there are a grand total of two), then you need not worry! You will find Part 1 and Part 2 my simply clicking on those thoughtful reminders.

On our final day in the capital we started the day with determined grit. Our jaws were set and our elbows were sharpened: today, we would make it to the Natural History Museum. Even if it meant sacrificing the goodness of our gentle souls to the shoving of strangers and overtaking of excited children.

I wouldn't let those innocent smiles fool you.

Don’t let those innocent smiles fool you. We meant business.

The museum is an impressive building. For those of you who have never been there, the facade is unexpected in the middle of a busy street. It almost looks like something out of Harry Potter, or a building made for private boarding schools.

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When step inside, you come literally face to face with skeletons of dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs, displays of fossils, glossy exhibitions of insects, and suspended walkways that take you through the eco system.

One of my favourite photos of the trip: Sam having a face-off with a Giant Sloth.

One of my favourite photos of the trip: Sam having a face-off with a Giant Sloth!

There is a fantastic section that takes you through the geological timeline of Earth (which Geology student Sam particularly enjoyed as he was able to show off all his science-y knowledge about rocks. A thing I love about him. Truly.) There are astronauts, and escalators that take you through the center of the our planet, and rooms full of mammals. There are whales EVERYWHERE.

astro earth

 

whale

And, when things get a bit too educational and start to exhaust your brain, there are cafes, and benches, and random areas of empty floor that you collapse on from lack of any other option.

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The day passed all too quickly, which I suppose isn’t surprising. When you’re absorbing information from the beginning of time to the present day, it can distract you from trivial things such as Time.

ammsSam didn’t let go of my hand once. He walked me through Time and pointed out key periods and animals, pressing his nose against the glass to peer more closely at the ammonoids. His excitement was contagious. My favourite part of that day was watching him, as strange as it sounds. His face lit up as he pulled me from one room to the next, and his proud chest puffed out as he picked up on minor flaws on the labels in display cases.

He was both a boy and a man, excited and thirsty for more knowledge, torn between science and an exhausted girlfriend – compromising by half carrying the one whilst making intellectual love to the other. I hadn’t seen him like that in a long time.

It was late in the afternoon by the time we left. We enjoyed a leisurely tea at the train station, stuffing ourselves with a not-so-wise amount of food, and stepped on to the platform.

tower 2It’s strange, the places adventure can grab you. I’ve been going to London all my life but I’ve never been to THIS London: the one with marble hotels and towering architecture.  The London that holds a day with endless possibilities, luring you down paths you never thought you’d follow. The one with crowds that melt into the background when that one person holds you close and whispers in your ear.

All of the fantastic travel blogs I read on WordPress tell stories of what I thought of as ‘REAL’ adventure: worldwide travel, exploration of remote regions, self discovery on a mountain-top.

But it turns out you can have some of the greatest adventures by simply venturing out of your front door and tottering down the garden path.

With a forlorn glance back, Sam waved a comic goodbye to the city before, laughing, I shoved him onto the train.

bye 2

bye

LONDON BOUND! The Adventures of Sam ‘n’ Ella (Pt. 2)

Here we were. In the sprawling, enchanting, enthralling capital of England. A city full of packed out markets, starry-eyed theatrical productions, world famous buildings, renowned museums…

…and it was raining.

Bucket-fulls.

‘We’re getting the genuine London experience!’ Sam kept smiling at me from under a soaking wet hood. ‘We can’t ask for more than that!’

‘Yes, we could,’ I snapped. ‘We could ask for some sunshine. sunny London experience.’

rain

It was midday and we had tried the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Aquarium, AND the London Dungeons, but everywhere we tried had capped queues. We couldn’t get in anywhere, each place having been sought out by excited families on half term trying to escape from the rain.

While we were huddled underneath the shelter provided by some public toilets.

I consider that one of the low points of the trip.

bridgearchIt took some convincing a disheartened and thoroughly moody Ellie to get up the energy to tackle Oxford Street instead, but luckily, Sam prevailed. We trudged across the Jubilee Bridge and began our dripping journey on the underground to the Marble Arch.

I’ve always loved Oxford Street growing up. I love all the shops and the jostle of giant double decker buses nudging past each other in the street. I love the people you see there – such a wide range, from the super fashionable and pristine to the excitable child splashing through the rain, running for Hamleys. But most of all, I love the Disney Store.

For anyone, of any age, I believe the Disney store can bring a smile. The particular store on this street is my favourite however, with a walk through coral reef packed full of Finding Nemo merchandise, and countless shelves stuffed with cuddly toys, characters you couldn’t find anywhere else.

nemo

I have an embarrassingly intense obsession with Beauty and the Beast, as I may have mentioned before. (Ahem…here maybe?) But just LOOK AT WHAT I FOUND!

beastNeedless to say, the shopping eventually cheered me up somewhat. We dipped in and out of shops and coffee houses, and bought a fluorescent pink umbrella for some protection. Of course, we had a peek around Hamleys, (but quite frankly were scared off by all the tiny humans) and then continued down to Leicester Square for M&M World, which friends of ours insisted we simply HAD to go in to.

mmDespite the weather, it had been a good day. We laughed together more than we had in a long time, and cuddled up as we walked along the street for warmth. It doesn’t sound like the smoothest of days, or the most pleasant, but I loved it. Our plans had fallen through and we were left to simply explore, buoying each other up and gripping on to each others’ hand, a silent message that none of this mattered.

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That evening we left the hotel (taking yet more pictures of Tower Bridge as we passed) and went for a whizz around the London Eye. Sam loved this. He was taking picture after picture, scurrying from one end of the pod to the other, mouth open as I pointed out Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square; delighted at the perfect snaps of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

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Afterwards we walked back over the Jubilee Bridge, having come full circle for the day. We ambled towards Trafalgar Square and enjoyed a nice meal at Garfunkel’s…

Steak Burger from Heaven.

Steak Burger from Heaven!

…before finishing the night in a giggly rush, running around Trafalgar Square, posing in front of statues of lions and scaring the occasional tourist as we whipped past the National Gallery.

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Sam was right. It wasn’t the day we had expected; not a single plan had gone right; our toes would never de-prune from the rain.

But that day was the true London experience. And I couldn’t have asked for more

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