The bright metallic trim of the taxis shined glaringly into my eyes. The horns and engines roared as they amalgamated together with an array of impetuous people who flocked the doddering sidewalks of 5thAvenue. The stench of the pollutants filled the air and left my nostrils suffocating in a pool of miasma. Chills are sent up and down my spine as the boreal winds stab my cheeks. Monstrous skyscrapers surrounded my parents and me as we arrived to our new apartment. I closed my eyes and pondered warm memories of back home. The desire to leave this place was burning brighter in my body.
There was nothing special about our newly acquired living space, which wasn’t much larger than one of those god awful trucks racing up and down the avenue. Upon taking my first few steps into that place I quickly gasped at the horrific odor and immediately held my nose in a theatrical manner. I turned around to look at both my parent’s reaction while giving them a plaintive look. “It’s just a diamond in the rough, that’s all. We’ll get this place looking like home in no time” my mum said. I will never consider this place home.
I carried my box and suitcase into my new room. The furniture I once had in my room back in Newborough was sold at auction. I remember when I would sit at my wooden vanity while combing my dolls hair. Contrast that with a bed the size of an army cot and a wobbly wooden desk that was held together with luck and chewing gum. I noticed a small window across from my bed and a lingering thought forced me towards it in hopes that I would reveal a magical surprise. I slowly lifted the blinds up.
I suppose some things are better kept unknown. I lowered the blinds down in complete despondence. I had a beautiful bay window in my room back in England that overlooked Llanddwyn Bay. I would spend hours drawing and painting the amazing scenery from my window. Art was my passion. My drawings and paintings were put on display all over our hometown. I was so proud to walk into a small store or cottage and see one of my pictures hanging majestically on the wall. I always had to look down onto the lower right corner and see my name, in big red letters; Katherine O’Malley.
I headed over to the other side of the room and began taking my things out of the box. I pulled out my canvas easel and my favorite painting of Llanddwyn Beach that I had painted during a special sunset. I set it against the window sill and sat down on my bed. I stared at my painting, hoping that somehow it could magically take me home.
I can still feel the course sand in between my toes and the sun on my skin. It was like living inside a perfectly well-written fairytale as I watched the waves empty their hearts along the beach. Sea birds darted and danced in tune with each thunderous crash of the waves.
I close my weary eyes and hang on to every precious image inside my head as I doze off in a peaceful slumber
“We have a new student everyone. This is Katherine O’Mally and she just moved here from England. I know you’ll make her feel right at home.” The teacher announces to the class as she pats my upper back. I look around the room. This place will never feel like home. I think to myself. My heart races as I walk slowly to my assigned desk. The stares from of all the blank faces besiege me. I feel like a helpless rat being examined by imperious scientists as the teacher called roll. I sank into my chair, pretending that I’m reading my schedule even though I had already memorized it. “Oh I bet she has one of those British accents” some girl whined. “I bet she probably doesn’t even shave her legs” another girl giggled. I hear their whispers being tossed about behind my back as my heart pounds even harder.
When the teacher finished calling roll she came over to my desk. “So Katherine, do you mind if I call you Katie?” She asked. I shake my head slowly at her while making little eye contact. Mustering up all the courage I could find at this most odd and difficult moment I blurted out “No!” She looked shocked at my sudden answer. I thought quickly and looked up and said “My name is Katherine. Katherine O’Malley and I would appreciate it if I would be called Katherine.” She gave me a friendly “that’s fine. Katherine O’Malley it is.” and walked back to her desk. I guess Americans are just too bloody lazy to pronounce people by their full and proper name.
I continue to hear soft remarks from some of the students sitting in the back row. “How come she doesn’t talk?” “I hear British people have horrible breath and bad teeth”
The constant gossip continued to mumble behind my back. It began to profusely irritate me. I can’t do anything about it though so I just sat there hopelessly in my seat as the teacher writes on the board. I close my eyes and imagine myself with my friends in the supper-room at Newborough High School. I continue dreaming of back home when suddenly a paper ball hits me from behind. I turn around and find a group of kids laughing at me. My cheeks turn red. The teacher didn’t even bother turning around to see what all the commotion was. She just continued to write our assignments of the chalk board. So this is why Europeans hate Americans I thought. They were all; boorish, loud, obnoxious and downright unfriendly. I couldn’t wait for the bell to sound that would signal the end of the worse day of my life.
“How was your first day my lovely one?” My mother asked while welcoming me into the apartment. “I rather not discuss it” I snapped back with a bitter tone. I headed into my room and slammed the door. Tears began to soak into my pillow. My mum quickly came in and sat on the bed next to me. She handed me a warm cup of rosie. “Come now dear, it can’t be that bad, can it?” I lift my head up from the pillow and notice my painting hanging on the wall above my bed. “Why did you move my painting?” I interrupt her bluntly. I gave her absolutely no time to respond before I burst into a storm of rage. “I liked my painting on the window sill. That’s where I wanted it! I hate this bloody apartment! I hate that damn bloody school too! None of the kids like me! New York is nothing but a bloody dustbin of rude and filthy Americans!” Before my mother could even get a word in, I grabbed my purse and burst out of the apartment.
I stepped out onto the busy sidewalk. I begin walking with the hordes of other New Yorkers looking like they had someplace to go but never knew where they were going. I have no idea where I’m going either, so I guess is some small way, I am just like them. As I come to an intersection, I noticed a huge green sign that read “Brooklyn Bridge” with an arrow pointing east. I peered around the corner, my eyes widen at the view of a spectacular sight. Off, in the near distance was the most monumental piece of architecture I had ever seen. A fortress-like bridge spanned the biggest river I have ever seen and the impressive works of steel and intricate cables lured me towards its cynosure. My face lit up as I made my way onto the elongated bridge overlooking the east river.
The view was absolutely spectacular and for a brief moment I stopped thinking about how much I hated New York. I turned my head in all directions as I walked further along the bridge. It is a much larger replica of the Barmouth Bridge back in Wales except this one was more awe inspiring. I could hear the soothing sounds of rhythmic water rushing beneath me and I could see hundreds of boats traversing the channel. Scores of balladic birds soared in and out of the columns and girders as if they were in symphony with the bridge. I found a place to sit on a nearby bench and gazed at the New York skyline.
The buildings reminded me of the hills back at Llanddwyn Beach as the fervent sunset cast orange and pink hues on every building. A delicate reflection of the sun cast a luminous glow that reverberated off the steel and glass buildings and into my eyes. A few fluffy clouds acted as cushions for the towering skyscrapers to rest upon. I felt again the warm and gentle wind as it kissed my face. The same winds I remembered back on Llanddwyn Beach. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off this captivating sight. This moment would be etched into my memory. I reached into my purse and took out my sketchpad and charcoal pencil. I began to sketch the lines and shapes of the city and the river that cascaded below. It was a combination of beauty and function. As I drew the New York skyline, I found a certain peace come over me. Perhaps, for the first time, since moving to America, I felt as though I was home. Looking at my rough sketch of the city, bridge and the bold flow of the water below, it seemed as though England was speaking to me. She was telling me that I would always cherish the memories of my time spent with her and that I would make new memories of my life in New York. It was ok to let go of the past and accept my new life. It was for me to find happiness now in America and that I would always be welcomed back to England. When I finish my drawing, I took my charcoal pencil firmly in my hand and signed my new picture. “Katie O’Malley.” I closed my sketchpad and headed home.