Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Lost in Transition – Adjusting to a New City and a New Roommate

February 15th, 2018
New York

When last September came around and I had dropped my youngest off at university, I was excited to be moving to Manhattan, starting a new life with Stretch, my transatlantic beau of two-plus years. We would be living not just in the same time zone, but in the same apartment.

I didn’t give much thought to what the adjustment would be like, although my friend Natalie warned me:

“People say it takes a year to adjust to a new city. But I think it’s two.”

What about a new city and a  new roommate? Does that make the number bigger or smaller, I wondered.

I guess it depends on how well you know the person. Who knew a person, yes, that person, could cherish his framed maps so much? Or consider pretty objects on a table “clutter”, or a full fridge a sign of food going to waste? Or not know who Nicole Kidman is.

Who is that lady? Stretch asked last night when the somewhat stunning,  Academy-award winning Australian actress appeared in a commercial.

That would be Valentine’s night when Stretch spotted the Australian lady on the screen. We were watching TV, more specifically, we were watching Olympic skating. As the Dutch won the Gold (poor America, poor Stretch), I wondered whether I could sneak off and have a bath.

Sometimes Stretch says things which I don’t really follow. Correction: I have no idea what he’s talking about.

That’s a license to hunt.

They’re drinking from the firehose.

Time to call an audible.

Despite not understanding much of what Stretch says, he seems to understand me  fine.  The toilet  seat is now always down. He tiptoes in the early morning and knows to remain calm when I am not. I wish I could bottle his patience, his zen-ness. I’m beginning to think the mark of a good relationship is not how well you get along, but how well you get along when you’re not getting along.

With all the change going on in our lives, I suggested we talk to a couples’ counselor or “communications advisor”, as Stretch prefers to call  my favorite wiseman, Shomit Mitter.  Shomit Skyped us from London where he lives and works. He saw no problems in the relationship although he did suggest I exhibit more patience when Stretch comes up with decorating ideas.

Don’t just say ‘No’, listen to him, Shomit said.

I do, I replied. Look at all our maps.

Shomit thinks my problem settling into the city is one of logistics, that I am frazzled because I don’t have a structure to my day.

So I hired a dog walker, found an IT person and a cleaner. And to assimilate more, I have joined a gym. New Yorkers  love to work out – they work hard and play hard.

In London my pilates teacher Violetta came to my flat. She spent as much time teaching my dogs Russian as overseeing  my pelvic floors. Caroline at Equinox isn’t so sweet. Her box of tricks includes  pulleys, weights, ropes and squats. I always arrive late, but torture is torture whether it’s 50 or 60 minutes.

The yoga teacher at the gym is kinder. She tells our class to get into the fetal position – love that.

You are  like a seed, she starts. You are creating the new you, you are writing your book. Too often people get stuck in the same chapter, circling around. This is an invitation to write your own story, the way you want to see yourself in 5 years, 10 years. What’s it going to be? You are the author.”

I think of Stretch when he comes home after work.  I hear him playing with the dogs. He takes off his coat, rounds the corner and there he is.

A story to be continued.

February, 2018