This afternoon I stood on Amsterdam Avenue, outside a New York deli with a Chinese buffet inside (yes, ONE OF THOSE) and a profusion of tulips outside the door. The pavements were crowded with mothers and children on the way back from school, and me and my pushchair were getting in the way, so I wedged myself in the flowers until they were all I could smell. And I thought: I choose for my alternative life to be this.
Do you ever do that? Construct a pretend life for yourself? I do it all the time. And in the ten minutes before Timothy emerged with Oreo cookies (obviously), I had placed us here in the Upper West Side, living high up in one of those beautiful old brownstone buildings, taking Henry to the swings in Central Park, charming everyone with our English accents (like accents would stand out in New York of all places) and eating at Shake Shack at least once a week, because oh my good heavens, people, that burger was amazing.
And I would visit all of the places in You’ve Got Mail. And I would do brunch with all of those mothers and babies. And Timothy and I would play Spot That Hipster, which is our new favourite game, every day. The great thing about alternative lives is that you don’t have to worry about tiny apartments or money or jobs or real life problems. Wouldn’t life take on a multicoloured hue if it was lived in a city like this?
(I also have alternative lives in Paris and in London. Suburbia suits us better, but I dream of cities. Is it an easy-access-to-museums thing? Or a lots-of-lovely-food thing? I don’t know.)
All of which is to say, I think New York is smashing, and I feel tremendously lucky to have seen it.
Alternatively we could live at the top of the Rockefeller Centre. Hey, it’s my fantasy. I can do what I want.
Do you have any alternative lives? Do any of them involve playing Spot That Hipster? You should try it; it’s a ton of fun. You’ll become more familiar with dodgy facial hair than you ever dreamed possible.