Ask a French Girl About Leaving New York

It’s finally happened: our resident French girl, Laura, has left New York. It’s exciting. She is beginning a wonderful and exciting new chapter in London. And don’t worry, we’ll still treat her as our life oracle here at MR even though she’s way across the sea. (Raise your hand if she’s closer to you now. Lucky!) But that doesn’t mean leaving New York was easy. Starting new adventures — no matter how thrilling — never really are. So we asked her about the move. And, she was, as she always is: unfairly chic, eternally wise.

So you left New York for a job in London. What was the moment you knew you were going to take the job and move, even if you didn’t say it out loud yet? What made you say “yes”?

Europe is home, and although I would have not come back to Europe without a job, I knew it would happen at some point. Eventually…

What’s funny though is that I didn’t have an “Ah-ha!” moment. It just felt natural and right after almost seven years in New York. I had too much fun and learned a little too much in this city. Sometimes it’s good to know when to say goodbye.

The job gave me a lot of the strength to move forward. I really liked the project that I was offered to join. When I learned about the details, I knew I would eventually have to start counting down my days in New York .

No one knew except for the city of London and me. It was as though I had finally started another type of relationship with a city, one where I was finally not the chaser, but the Alpha. I started to look at everything differently.

How scared were you?

Scared of what? Moving to a new town? Or moving out of New York, my adult home? Or maybe scared to admit that New York and I were over? We will never be done with one another.

I didn’t really have time to be scared; I had time to learn my lessons in New York, to discover that fear can only be used as a motivation or it will slow you down. The atmosphere is so hectic in this city that I had to learn how to remove myself from the frazzled present in order to not miss the important matters. So I was not scared, but now that you asked me, I admit I was nervous a lot.

I was asking a thousand questions a minute in my head, giving myself headaches, preventing myself from falling asleep. Things like: How am I going to physically move everything? How am I going to be when I arrive in London? How do I know if it is okay to be sad or not?

And now that you’re there: how scared are you to be there?

A lot of my worries are gone, mainly because they belonged to some sort of a technical part of the move.

I am lucky to have very good friends in London who have made the move, in its “mental” and “non tangible” aspect, the smoothest possible. I’m especially lucky to have one who ensured I felt cozy-ed up, as well as excited by the new town. He introduced me to his friends and family, showed me different areas and took me out. I also found an old friend from New York, and the first afternoon that we spent together was priceless joy! Being able to talk about New York felt extremely good.

Of course I am scared, or anxious, of the relationship I will hold with this new town, but I am confident she will be good to me. As long as I am good to her? Maybe? Haha!

What was the hardest part about telling people you were leaving?

New York is the land of welcoming the ones who desire to be part of something! A project, a gang, a dance group, a jazz band, a pizzeria, a start up, anything so long as you “belong.” Announcing I had decided to leave NY, of not belonging anymore, was very strange — mainly because my friends in NY were my family, my brothers and sisters, who I lived with and survived with.

The look in their eyes were the hardest part. Some were watery, some were looking down, some looked left and right, almost like they were trying to find a “back up” or a “how to” book to help them take in the news.

But they were all so happy for me.

What were some things you knew you had to get done before leaving — but not the boring errand stuff. The New York stuff.

I had to go uptown to get a panini at Via Quadronno, go to the Met, watch a basketball game in the street, do as much yoga and Pilates as possible. I went to Reformation and spent way too much time there then had to sit at San Ambroeus outside and speak to Ali about everything and nothing. Even though he is Iranian, the restaurant is Italian and we spoke French, this was my New Yorker move.

I also went to an amazing Japanese place in the Lower East Side followed by drinks in the neighborhood. I got a bagel at Sadelle’s, a pastrami sandwich at Katz and went for a walk in Central Park.

What do you already miss the most about NYC?

My morning coffee. My morning walk. My apartment. The blue sky. You. And Nadia also, Maude, Benj, Ariel and Joan. I miss the girls, Em, Jannah, Cesca and Millie, Sarah and Sandro.

I miss the Peking duck at my favorite Chinese place. Eddie also. I miss the Milanese cutlet at San Ambroeus. I miss the energy that, even though it was frantic, animated me. I miss the positivity of the city, the “Of course, yes” you could hear from everyone at all times and the tourist looking around with wonder in her eyes.

What did you not expect to miss?

I was not expecting to miss a feeling or a “vibe.” It is never said that you will miss an energy. Although, New York was like a person to me and I miss her entirely. I miss her defects and her beauties.

It’s okay to say it: what do you like more about London than you did NYC?

The proximity to France, Italy, Spain. I love how clean London is, how organized it seems to be. I like their tea already and the way people dress. I like its different neighborhoods and its normal weather.

One thing I am still debating: I think London is a he. I am realizing that as I am typing that I can’t put my finger on its vibe yet. Can I make it a “he” officially, right now?

I love how he has been treating me. No warm welcome, yet I could feel at home here one day.

What advice do you have for anyone going through a life transition like this, or thinking about beginning a similar transition?

It is okay to be scared as long as it is a good type of scary. There is no such thing as a new beginning if you don’t allow the past to be part of what is not present anymore. Be fine letting what used to be go, because what matters will always remain. Your friends, memories and energies will stay if you are taking care of them.

This transition from a job to another, a continent to another, is part of the journey. I think it is important to always search for the positive. Without being blind, try to always have the good side in your mind, because people will want you to look at the difficulties first.

Has your way of dressing changed? Do you think it will? How/why?

It certainly hasn’t since I’ve been here because the weather has been warm and sunny. I’ll keep wearing my favorite dresses and flats. But most certainly it will change when the rain arrives and the wind starts ruling town. To be honest, I am excited. I kept on saying that I wanted to get myself rain boots and a trench coat!

Weather will definitely drive the look at first, but I think the overall style will remain the same. I probably won’t wear yoga pants as often on the weekends and I’ll think twice before leaving the flat without a coat, but I really am excited about the change.

What’s your aspirational London ideal outfit?

Jeans, a t-shirt and a trench coat. Funny enough, it is the same in Paris and in NY. The only things that will differ: the accessories!. I have an umbrella in London, a bottle of water in NYC and a bag full of unnecessary items in Paris.

Do you think you’ll move back?

I have never re-heated McDonalds after I said I was done with it. Cold, re-warmed chicken nuggets are never as good as when they’re first cooked. Not that New York is a chicken nugget, but you know what I mean…I was told to look in front of me and only look back smiling.

So what’s it like being a French girl in London?

There are so many French in London. I have heard them speaking in the street already. The other day I was buying bread and the guy responded to me in French. Not so much “a je ne sais quoi” anymore…

What’s funny is that now I am also watching the town with the eye of a Frenchie who has lived seven years in New York, and that, I think, gives London a certain look. No judgement, London!

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


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