Saturday, April 12, 2008

How my life has changed

Sometimes I look back on my life in London, and think that I have morphed into a different person. If I went out once a week, I was doing well. I was all about the dinner parties in my kitchen, and the boozy Sunday lunches and walks on Hampstead Heath with the babydog, & hanging out with my adored little sister.

If I went to one fashion party a month I was pushing myself. Hip restaurants: if a PR lunched me, or my parents were in town but otherwise…

Here I ping around the city at a pace that leaves me breathless. I go out so much I can barely keep up with my dry cleaning let alone blogging about it. Manhattan is such an overt world: where so much of London life happens behind closed doors at dinner parties & in private members’ club, here in New York it’s all about the overt: the hot restaurant, and the great cocktail bar, seeing & being seen. Plus it's actually cheaper to eat out than cook for people.

It’s so expensive to eat in London that the idea of a bar in a restaurant is completely alien: when a main course in a good restaurant is at least $35 no one drops in to eat at the bar or grab an appetizer with drinks. London dining is an event, and an almost unaffordable expense. (And that's after you've dropped the cost of an entree on just getting there.)

Here in New York I eat out at least five times a week and, this week alone, I’ve been out for dinner every night since last Friday. (And am starting to have the avoirdupois to show for it too.)

The compact nature of the city, both in geography & in apartment size, means that going out becomes incredibly appealing. There are fifteen restaurants on my block alone, one of which is open 24hrs. After a year of living in the East Village the novelty of walking outside & grabbing a meal any hour of the day hasn’t worn off yet. Let alone knowing that even going uptown will cost me just $10 in a cab if I am running late. (As opposed to $40 in London for an equivalent journey.)

And, best of all, I don't need to stay at parties for ages, or schedule two or three things in an evening because it's taken me over an hour to get there. In London, the travelling time to get anywhere is the main reason I rarely went out: after a day of work I just couldn't face it.

Here I can be home in fifteen minutes from most places I hang out in this city if I take a $10 cab. Most times, tho, I can walk or use my bike. And that is the biggest freedom of all.