Conversations with a fellow transplant to NY

Over the weekend, I got an e-mail from a fellow Filipina who moved here to NY two months ago.  She had bumped into me via my Gotham Chick blog and had written just to say hello and to talk about Etsy.  We have exchanged e-mails, the last of which I wrote this morning on the way to work on blackberry.  I just thought it was worth sharing here because I wanted to write about my perspective as a transplant to NY after 12 years.  Here’s the edited version:

Hello, E —

I, too, moved here to get married but my husband is Filipino, too, and it wasn’t quite 5 years but we made things happen the same way you did.

Your husband is right, you know, you should get out more.  Yes, it’s so different here and adjustment takes a while.  I wish I can tell you your sleep patterns will adjust soon but w/o the pressure of a vacation timetable or work, give it another month or two more.

Since you are looking to live here a long time, may I make a few suggestions?

When I moved to New York (in 2000), the second week I was here, I was exploring the city already.  (Does your husband work in Manhattan?). I used to go to the city with my husband 2-3x a week and we’d share breakfast at Starbuck’s or Timothy’s after grabbing a bagel or some other from a street cart then he went to the office and I walked around.  We sometimes met for lunch, sometimes not, then we went home together.  Sometimes we’d go to dinner in the city.  By the end of my third week, I was riding the subway alone.  He gave me an allowance and I had an extension credit card.  (Even before we got married.)

There is so much to see in Manhattan, and it will help you adjust to “living here” and “being here”.  At home, boredom will remind you what you have left behind and everything you are far away from.  When you are ready to hit Manhattan, tell me and I will write you  a walking route.

Bell and Northern is quite a ways away from Bay Terrace but I spent my days at home basically walking to Barnes & Noble.  (we got a one-bedroom on 23rd Ave which was just behind it), I’d copy recipes from the mags, walk over to Waldbaums (had my extension credit card) and discovered I could actually cook! I  surprised my husband with some culinary delight every night.

I can cook but don’t ask me how I make kare-kare because I can’t.  I’ll tell you which Filipino restaurant in Woodside, though, has the better one.

The Michael’s in Manhasset is nearest you.  I go to the one in Westbury because it’s near our favorite Target store.  (My husband needs a Target fix weekly, which, if you ask me is better than a Banana Republic habit. Haha!  He’s outgrown it..).

Explore the Mid-Manhattan library — and the New York Public Library (the place where Jake Gyllenghal – sp? – and company hid during that winter storm in Day After Tomorrow) which are bigger than your neighborhood library.  I’ve never had a library card in Queens but always had one in Manhattan.

You need to start talking to other people because they won’t understand your English good as it may be because they talk not just w/ a twang but the dynamics are different.  I’ve been here 12 years and my first year, I had to adjust to that quickly.

People will ask you “how are you?” and about how your day is going when they just need a report or print out — in Manila, diretso yon.  Sa atin, chika yon, pero dito, conversation yon.

I still miss Manila even if I’ve been home 5x the last 3 years due to family matters I had to attend to plus our usual every other year vacation.  (Advantages of having a Filipino husband who has high school classmates and relatives in Manila.).   Take advantage of this time to explore your new city.  Hindi ka na bakasyonista dito, taga-rito ka na.

Do you have family here?  Mine are all in Manila.  All my bestfriends, too.

Take the adjustment as a forever phase in your new life.  I was a lawyer in the Philippines but I was in Corporate Communications in my last 4 years there.  Never actively practiced.  I arrived here at age 34 and I had done practically everything I had hoped to achieve except rake in the millions (ha!) so I wanted a family.  I haven’t quite forgotten about the legal part of my brain, and maybe when my son is in his teens…I’ll give the NY bar a try.  But see, I wanted a baby, and my husband was firm that we both had to work (started 6 months after I got here), save enough to buy a co-op (which we did in 2 yrs) then we started trying.  My boy was born in 2004.

Sorry I got carried away and I’m almost at my stop.  (I take the express bus to and from the city when I don’t hitch a ride with the hubby.  He has a parking spot as a perk in his job  but he stays even later than my usual 6pm cut off at work.)

I’ll send you things to do in Manhattan if you’re interested.  Tell me the relative area where your husband works if he works here so I can have a reference point.  Maybe we can have coffee or even lunch if ever you hit the city.  August, I can even take you around the bead stores here on 6th.

Explore… I’m the perpetual tourist here myself — even after 12 years.

Hitting 42nd.. Later…

Have a great day, E..

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