Category: junior year abroad


November 10th, 2013 — 8:46pm

For as much as I adore NYC, there’s one other city that also has a big piece of my heart — .

Longtime readers of this blog know I first became smitten with England’s capital during my junior year there. Earlier this week, I got to indulge my inner Anglophile — and catch up with my dearest London-based BFF .

Back In The Day: Steve and me in London’s Leicester Square (July 1998)

Steve and I met up for dinner at , a quaint little Turkish bistro in Midtown East. We were celebrating a very special milestone — twenty years of friendship.

Steve is one of those friends whose wisdom and understanding have carried me through some of the hardest times of my life — and whose company I always look forward to. Our 20th anniversary get together found us, as always, falling into effortless, engaging conversation. We talked about family, relationships and the soul searching questions that come up as you approach 40.

We capped off the night with milkshakes at Johnny Rockets, promising to do the same when we mark 40 years (sigh) of friendship.

Speaking of special occasions, I joined galpal (and former London resident) Stacy to commemorate the UK’s Guy Fawkes Night.

Cheeky Fox: Stacy and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening’s signature cocktail

We attended the St. George Society’s night out at posh shop Thomas Pink. As a DJ spun British pop tunes, we enjoyed cocktails, hours d’oeuvres and mingling. We ended up chatting with two expats who recently moved to New York. They agreed that London and NYC are sister cities, equally irresistible in their varied charms.

I feel very fortunate that both of these vibrant places are a part of me. And I’m counting the days until I’m London bound again!

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July 28th, 2010 — 9:49pm

Not too long ago, I blogged about the downside of . The upside to reconnecting with one — when you can revisit old times as old friends.

The other day, I had the opportunity to do just that when I reached out to one of my favorite beaus of yesteryear, . Fabian and I had an on-again/off-again romance during my junior year in London. Months later, we shared three heavenly days together here in New York.

Over dinner at a cozy Italian bistro, Fabian apologized for his uneven behavior during our involvement. Taking my face in his hands, he said–

“I think we missed a great chance together….I think I missed a great chance.”

That was almost 15 years ago.

Since then, Fabian and I have kept in touch sporadically. I emailed him the other day to inform him I’ll be in his neck of the woods — the mystery city where I’ll wrap up my European Dating Blitz — in September. We have a date.

I’m looking forward to catching up with him. And I’m also looking forward to meeting the “eligible bachelor” he plans to set me up with!

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September 29th, 2009 — 11:09pm

Last week, I met up with E, a British old flame from my college days.

E resurfaced out of the blue in a . I couldn’t help appreciating the irony of this, given that he was one of the reasons I hesitated to join Facebook in the first place.

During my junior year in London, E and I were good friends who ended up crossing the platonic line while he was on the rebound. One morning, I woke up to find a troubled look on E’s face. When I asked what was wrong, he responded–

“I don’t know…I just feel less for you than I did before.”

Ouch.

Bar Italia: E and I caught up over dinner at this fabulous UES wine bar and restaurant

Thankfully, it felt like a lifetime had passed since all of this unpleasantness as I approached E at .

Over a delicious dinner al fresco (including a heavenly plate of fettucini amatriciana), we talked about life, love and work. A film editor, E was in town working on the movie “,” due out next spring. Now married with kids, he was quite inquisitive about why I’m still single, whether I’ve ever been in love, etc. By choice and yes, I answered, adding wryly that he’ll have to wait for my book to find out more.

E thanked me for agreeing to meet him, observing that I had every reason not to. Laughing, I admitted my initial inclination was to say no but then I figured, why not?

I’m glad I indulged my curiosity. Seeing E again put an important period on a brief but seminal chapter in my young adulthood.

As I walked away from him, I thought to myself — he’s just an ordinary guy, one who happened to teach me the value of proceeding with caution when it comes to romance. And who, by extension, made me appreciate how great it feels to throw caution to the wind whenever you meet someone who warrants it.

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September 29th, 2009 — 6:09pm

Last week, I met up with E, a British old flame from my college days.

E resurfaced out of the blue in a . I couldn’t help appreciating the irony of this, given that he was one of the reasons I hesitated to join Facebook in the first place.

During my junior year in London, E and I were good friends who ended up crossing the platonic line while he was on the rebound. One morning, I woke up to find a troubled look on E’s face. When I asked what was wrong, he responded–

“I don’t know…I just feel less for you than I did before.”

Ouch.

Bar Italia: E and I caught up over dinner at this fabulous UES wine bar and restaurant

Thankfully, it felt like a lifetime had passed since all of this unpleasantness as I approached E at .

Over a delicious dinner al fresco (including a heavenly plate of fettucini amatriciana), we talked about life, love and work. A film editor, E was in town working on the movie “,” due out next spring. Now married with kids, he was quite inquisitive about why I’m still single, whether I’ve ever been in love, etc. By choice and yes, I answered, adding wryly that he’ll have to wait for my book to find out more.

E thanked me for agreeing to meet him, observing that I had every reason not to. Laughing, I admitted my initial inclination was to say no but then I figured, why not?

I’m glad I indulged my curiosity. Seeing E again put an important period on a brief but seminal chapter in my young adulthood.

As I walked away from him, I thought to myself — he’s just an ordinary guy, one who happened to teach me the value of proceeding with caution when it comes to romance. And who, by extension, made me appreciate how great it feels to throw caution to the wind whenever you meet someone who warrants it.

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April 7th, 2009 — 12:51am

Friday night, my good friend Sara and I went to see Bryan Adams in concert at NYC’s legendary Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side.

Sara and I in front of the Beacon Theater right before the concert

We were doubly excited — to see the Beacon’s newly-renovated interior, and to experience our second Bryan Adams performance together.

That’s The Ticket: A memento from the last time we saw Bryan

Sara and I last saw the Canadian rocker 15 years ago, at Wembley Arena in London during our junior year abroad. This time around, Bryan was accompanied only by a guitar and, on some songs, the talented pianist from his band, Gary Briet.

Though our seats were in the rear balcony section, thanks to the Beacon’s transformative $10 million renovation, we could hear every note of Bryan’s beautifully raw acoustic sounds.

What A Makeover: The Beacon Theater has been majestically restored to its original glory

His energetic two-hour set kicked off with “Run To You” and featured a seamless mix of equally beloved classics with more recent hits. From ballads like “Heaven,” “Let‘s Make A Night To Remember,” and “You’re Still Beautiful To Me,” to rock n roll anthems like “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” and “This Time,” Bryan’s music filled the theater — and had the audience singing along.

Guitar Hero: Bryan Adams filled the Beacon with his stirring sounds

Remarkably, Bryan managed to indulge all of us in a big karaoke session without losing control of the stage, especially during heartfelt renditions of “Please Forgive Me” and, of course, the timeless “Summer of ‘69.”

The singer really connected with the crowd, revealing a comedic wit and great gift for storytelling. My favorite tales were two about the beauty and bite of the Big Apple.

Prior to one of his Madison Square Garden gigs, Bryan got stuck in the Village, unable to find a cab. He ended up on the subway, only to find himself alongside a bunch of fans heading to the concert. One noticed him — then discreetly guided Bryan in the right direction when he wasn’t sure how to get to MSG.

During another underground occasion, the singer asked a fellow straphanger for directions to SoHo.

“What, you can’t read?” was his response.

A six-song encore delivered even more of Bryan’s best — including “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” and “Straight From The Heart.” He closed out the show with the “Three Musketeers“ tune “All For Love.”

More than once during the concert, Bryan spoke with great affection for Gotham, saying–

“I love New York.”

The feeling is more than mutual.

Bryan’s US tour continues through mid-May. For more info, visit his .

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April 6th, 2009 — 7:51pm

Friday night, my good friend Sara and I went to see Bryan Adams in concert at NYC’s legendary Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side.

Sara and I in front of the Beacon Theater right before the concert

We were doubly excited — to see the Beacon’s newly-renovated interior, and to experience our second Bryan Adams performance together.

That’s The Ticket: A memento from the last time we saw Bryan

Sara and I last saw the Canadian rocker 15 years ago, at Wembley Arena in London during our junior year abroad. This time around, Bryan was accompanied only by a guitar and, on some songs, the talented pianist from his band, Gary Briet.

Though our seats were in the rear balcony section, thanks to the Beacon’s transformative $10 million renovation, we could hear every note of Bryan’s beautifully raw acoustic sounds.

What A Makeover: The Beacon Theater has been majestically restored to its original glory

His energetic two-hour set kicked off with “Run To You” and featured a seamless mix of equally beloved classics with more recent hits. From ballads like “Heaven,” “Let‘s Make A Night To Remember,” and “You’re Still Beautiful To Me,” to rock n roll anthems like “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” and “This Time,” Bryan’s music filled the theater — and had the audience singing along.

Guitar Hero: Bryan Adams filled the Beacon with his stirring sounds

Remarkably, Bryan managed to indulge all of us in a big karaoke session without losing control of the stage, especially during heartfelt renditions of “Please Forgive Me” and, of course, the timeless “Summer of ‘69.”

The singer really connected with the crowd, revealing a comedic wit and great gift for storytelling. My favorite tales were two about the beauty and bite of the Big Apple.

Prior to one of his Madison Square Garden gigs, Bryan got stuck in the Village, unable to find a cab. He ended up on the subway, only to find himself alongside a bunch of fans heading to the concert. One noticed him — then discreetly guided Bryan in the right direction when he wasn’t sure how to get to MSG.

During another underground occasion, the singer asked a fellow straphanger for directions to SoHo.

“What, you can’t read?” was his response.

A six-song encore delivered even more of Bryan’s best — including “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” and “Straight From The Heart.” He closed out the show with the “Three Musketeers“ tune “All For Love.”

More than once during the concert, Bryan spoke with great affection for Gotham, saying–

“I love New York.”

The feeling is more than mutual.

Bryan’s US tour continues through mid-May. For more info, visit his .

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December 14th, 2008 — 1:48am

When you’re in the throes of new love, you feel like you always have something to look forward to. This was never more true than during the summer of 1994, a couple of months into my involvement with California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

As I struggled with adjusting to life back in New York after my junior year in London and a local beau who didn’t exactly light my fire, Sparky provided a much-needed distraction. And my excitement about him grew once I made plans to go visit him in L.A. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of ‘94…

New York, NY
August 13th, 1994

Today, I went out to take care of two Sparky-related errands.

I stopped at Tiffany’s, to get him a beautiful sterling silver golf-themed key ring — no doubt, the most extravagant item I’ve ever purchased for a man But I figure, between the diamond band he gave me, the bi-coastal phone calls on his bill, and everything else, Sparky deserves a little bauble!

Tiffany & Co: During the summer of ’94, I stopped in the famed luxe retailer’s flagship Fifth Avenue store to pick up a little something for Sparky

Next, I went into Victoria’s Secret to try and find a pretty nightgown. No such luck. Unless you have a figure like Cindy Crawford, it is very difficult to find the kind of flattering lingerie I’m looking for (floor-length and silky, but with sleeves to hide my flabby arms).

* * *

August 14th, 1994

Organized some of my London mementos today. As I glanced at various ticket stubs and notes from my Commonwealth Hall buddies, I found myself saddened that these items, along with my diaries and photos, are all that remains of the most incredible experience of my life..

Later, I headed down to [my college roommate and friend] Li-Shean’s abode. Chatted with her summer roommate and another Mount Holyoke senior. A couple of Coors Lights had us pleasantly buzzed.

I called to check my messages and just as I hoped, Sparky had called.

“I love you,” he said on my voice mail. “And I can’t wait till you get here. Hope everything is wonderful, Bye.”

He’s so wonderful.

* * *

August 18th, 1994

I spoke to my sweetheart last night. We’ve spoken every night so far this week! It still amazes me that Sparky is so besotted. I never thought I would affect a man so deeply at this stage of my life, at least not one whose feelings I would reciprocate. Lord knows I’ve had my share of over ardent guys I felt no attraction for.

Yes — I am ridiculously excited about our pending reunion.

* * *

As I anticipated my first visit to California to see Sparky, I couldn’t wait to finally be with him in his world. I had no idea that my inaugural West Coast jaunt would introduce me to one of the greatest obstacles in our way — his job.

Coming up….an exhilarating night out with a visiting former colleague and a review of Frank Langella’s mesmerizing Broadway performance.

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November 29th, 2008 — 5:00pm

After you go away to college, there’s always a readjustment period when you return home. Getting used to being under my parents’ roof again was especially difficult during the summer following my junior year in London.

Thankfully, I had the welcome distraction of my California-based long-distance love Mark (a.k.a Sparky). A visit from Sparky in July left me yearning to see him again.

Given the newness of both my romance and my return from London, Dad had his reservations about me taking a trip to the West Coast. Thankfully, Mom helped convince him that he had nothing to worry about. I now Open The Vault and take you back to August of 1994…

August 8, 1994
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

I commented on the weather and asked Dad about his next game of golf. He smiled as he puffed away on his cigar, knowing I had more than meteorological matters on my mind. As if on cue, Mom came in and asked what we were talking about.

With a voice like butter, Mom began to tell Dad the real reason for our conversation. She was just about to do so when he interjected with–

“I know — she wants to go to California.”

My heart sank when he added—

“Didn’t we say that she’d done enough traveling for awhile?”

Mom concurred but gently added that this time, I would pay for my plane ticket instead of using frequent flier miles from our family account.

“What are you — attorney for the defense?” Dad quipped.

California Here I Come: A visit to the West Coast to see Sparky was on my agenda during the summer of 1994

After Mom exited, Dad asked when I was planning to go and where I would be staying (I opted not to tell him I would be staying with Sparky). He reached behind him and pulled out the form that would procure me a free miles-earned airline ticket.

Upon receiving the good news, I couldn’t wait to tell my sweetheart. I left a message for him and later, he called back.

“I want to hear you say it,” he said adorably.

“I’m coming to California!” I exclaimed.

“You’ll be on my turf now,” he said.

“Yeah,” I answered quickly, “But you’ll have to deal with my scruples [about remaining a virgin]!”

* * *

August 12th, 1994
I just spoke to Sparky. He had been trying to reach me all day. I was tickled pink to hear this because I had tried HIM to no avail the night before.

He said he is “very excited” about our relationship and that, since his visit here last month, his thoughts about me are “more of a constant thing.” I know exactly what he means.

* * *

While Sparky remained on my mind and I looked forward to seeing him on his ‘turf,’ I had other things to contend with on the local front – including a well-intentioned Granola-type beau who had me missing my California love even more.

Coming up…Tina Turner’s return to NYC and farewell festivities for a beloved exiting colleague and friend.

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November 22nd, 2008 — 1:25am

When you’re in the throes of new romance, life’s trials and tribulations invariably feel much more manageable. During the summer of 1994, my budding romance with California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky) offered a much-needed distraction from the letdown that accompanied returning to New York after my junior year in London.

My reunion with Sparky in NYC following our blissful week together in England’s capital confirmed absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Despite three months apart, the chemistry between us was palpable, as we enjoyed local delights ranging from dessert at the Plaza Hotel to corn dogs and rides at Coney Island.

Romance at Astroland: Sparky took this picture of me during our visit to Coney Island, August 1994

There was no questioning our feelings for each other. Other doubts, however, began to surface during our first summer rendez-vous. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of ‘94…

New York, NY
July 31st, 1994

Dear Diary,

Today was divine — one of the best days I’ve had since my tumultuous return home. Things between Sparky and me are more wonderful than ever, and now I have the added security of knowing that my family really likes him too.

One thing concerns me, though, and that is the intensity of Sparky’s feelings for me. He’s so certain that I’m the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with. I love him too, but I’m very far away from being ready to settle down.

* * *

August 1st, 1994

I came to a difficult conclusion today — I don’t think Sparky is the one for me. We come from two different worlds. This realization is one of the reasons tonight was such a downer (that, and the fact that Sparky didn’t wear a tie to dinner).

This whole thing with Sparky is so overwhelming. The week we had in London was essentially a honeymoon. During this second go-round, the circumstances are different. Our lives have witnessed a lot of changes since those carefree seven days in May and so, we’re suddenly having to confront issues that seemed much more peripheral a few months ago.

“That’s what a real relationship is,” Sparky told me back in London, when the subject of weathering up’s and down’s as a couple first came up.

Until he came along, I never really knew what a real relationship was.

* * *

August 6th, 1994

Well, he left yesterday and so far, I’ve thought of him every other minute…I never thought I could have such a complete, fulfilling bond with a man so early on in my adult life.

I don’t know what the future has in store for Sparky and I, but of this much I am sure — I’m going to hold on and enjoy the ride with all my heart while it lasts.

* * *
The roller coaster of long-distance love was just beginning for me and Sparky. And after our reunion in NYC, I was determined not to let another three months pass before we were together again. Before that could happen, though, I would have to overcome some formidable opposition from two important people — my parents.

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November 15th, 2008 — 10:33pm
Whenever I have a conversation about my junior year abroad, I invariably find myself feeling more than a little nostalgic. My nine-month stint in London was one of the best times of my life — and one of the hardest experiences to part with.

Upon returning from London in the summer of ‘94, I had a bad case of reentry shock, the letdown that accompanies returning to your home country following a long absence. Not only was I longing for England’s capital but I was preoccupied by affairs of the heart, specifically my budding long-distance romance with California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

Summer 1994: It wasn’t all smiles when I returned to NYC after my year in London
Sparky was very much on my mind as I settled back into life as a New Yorker. Lacking the steady stream of male distractions that I had in London, I ended up dating Frank, a friend of my brother’s whose obsession with being vegan and self-help guru Tony Robbins did little to light my fire. But, as the saying goes, when you’re not near the one you love…

I now Open The Vault and take you back to July of ‘94.…

New York, NY
July 15, 1994

Dear Diary,

In 7 hours, I will join Frank in his hometown of Poughkeepsie for his sister’s wedding. I really do not want to go to this thing because I have no desire to pretend he’s Mr. Wonderful.

It just figures. He comes from a Norman Rockwell-esque family and he lives in the same city — but I’m not in love with him. When Frank and I first hooked up on New Year’s Eve, I fancied him. But back then, I was looking for a distraction from last summer’s crush and Frank fit the bill.


Since then, though, the excitement factor with Frank has diminished considerably. He’s all I’ve got here, though, so I feel like I might as well keep him around.


* * *


July 17, 1994


Spoke to Sparky a little while ago. It’s too bad he’s so far away. Meanwhile, Frank is getting on my last nerve. Then again, what can I expect from a man who order lasagna with no cheese?

* * *

July 30, 1994

I find myself getting irritated on a daily basis now with Mom and Dad. I didn’t have to deal with their comments, criticisms, etc. in London. I had so much freedom there. The kind of freedom that I wish with all my heart I could have again, especially this week. Because in just 9 short hours, I will be reunited with Sparky…

* * *

I was both excited and nervous about seeing Sparky. After our blissful week together in London, would we able to live up to the romantic precedent we’d set for ourselves? Would our chemistry be the same? Little did I know that many more complicated questions would arise when Sparky and I were finally face to face once again.

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