Romance And Air Miles: Mid-Life Love


One of our guest bloggers, cultural writer Elena Bowes, is doing a series of posts on New York stores, since although being based in London, she’s frequently in New York. When I asked why she was lucky enough to pop across the Atlantic with such regularity, she said ‘Oh, I fell in love”. I thought we should know more…..

“A couple of weeks ago the Financial Times ran an article about the rise of transatlantic romances. Transatlantic being the key word. I have spent much of the past year up in the air above the Atlantic, clocking air miles, all because of a guy named Ken.

I met Ken on a blind date in Manhattan last March initiated by a mutual friend (with a little nudging from yours truly). What started as a fun side-plot to my trips to New York to see family soon became something more. Logistics have never been my strong suit. I’m more of a go for it now, think about it later type of person, otherwise known as impulsive. By July and a few exhilarating cross-ocean visits, it was time to talk logistics.

We agreed we needed to see each other for about a week a month, more in the summer to make it work. Eventually, one of us would have to spend more time in the other’s city. That would be me. I have a lot more freedom than Ken and will be an empty nester in about a year and a half with my three children likely to all be living in the States. If we both worked full-time with an ocean between us this relationship would have crumbled many months ago.

Trust is a given. You can’t be possessive or jealous or game-playing for this to work. What a relief that was. We also email and chat a lot.

The FT article ran a photo of George and Amal, who I am sure get whisked through customs and don’t have to wait years for their bags to appear on the conveyor belt. While I may not be super famous or even slightly famous, I do have a few travel privileges; I have dual citizenship. That chip on my UK passport and Global Entry on my US passport means my airport time is usually speedy, especially if I can manage carry-on only (not easy when you need to look your best for the next week).

The perks: I live two lives – exciting in New York, relaxing in London. I love the slam bam of Columbus Circle where Ken lives juxtaposed against my quiet leafy neighborhood. In London I wear ugly hats when I walk my dogs, save my makeup for carry-on and sleep with socks on. I just don’t care. I focus on my life, my writing, my youngest daughter who lives with me, my friends. As I’ve gotten older I am much clearer about what matter to me. I’m less interested in socializing for socialising’s sake. I’d rather hang out with my daughter, sip hot chocolate while watching The People vs OJ or whatever she expertly taps into the remote. Or be with close friends. That’s what makes me happy in London.

While in New York I get dressed up, go on fun dates, discover a new city, see my grown-up kids who live in NYC or nearby and spend real time with Ken. We appreciate each other’s presence because it’s not 24/7. It’s exciting.

Ken and Elena, cute huh?

Ken and Elena, cute huh? image

The hurdles: Responsibilities. I’m not 23 anymore and neither is Ken. We both have people who depend on us. I have one daughter at home and two of Ken’s three sons are in high school. I am lucky that my youngest is very mature and kind; she is happy that I am happy. Having said that, she is a normal 17-year-old. We had to negotiate when was the best time for me to travel – not during her exams or other sensitive periods when TLC (does one ever grow out of wanting a goodnight kiss?) is desired. And once a month max. So I learned to check dates with my daughter first. Then I check dates with Ken. Does he have the boys that weekend? Does he have a business trip or a board meeting that requires late nights in the office? Then I check with my other two kids to figure out when I can see them. Planning, planning, planning.

More hurdles: Loneliness. There are times when I really wish Ken was here, and he wishes I was there. Weekends are the trickiest so chats then are paramount. I need to feel connected to him and talking does that for me. We’re both long-term thinkers with an agreed game plan. This relationship wouldn’t work if we hadn’t discussed where it is heading. Long distance for us is a means to an end, not an end. I’m much more patient and wise now than when I was young. I can wait if the guy is worth it.

Why it works for us so far: We like each other. (Crucial) We’re both independent and have busy lives. I love to travel and like the solitude I get on a plane. Once I’m in a new place, I want to move around, explore. Because I am a blogger and naturally curious, I can keep busy during my days in New York. It’s important to have something to do during the day when I am there. I want to make sure that when I do spend a lot more time in NYC, I have other things pulling me there beyond Ken such as my children and stimulating things to do. My life is very full now, and I want to maintain that wherever I live.

Ken won me over when he visited- he loves my dogs, a perk I hadn’t even considered.”

Watch out for Elena’s top shopping spots guest blogs from NYC, over the next month. Her own blog is here and anyone wanting to know where those fab slippers Upgrade Please slippers come from, it’s Del Toro.


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