Posted by: gabriellereneeleblanc | September 6, 2012

How Green is Your Valley?

The grass seems so much greener in other people’s pastures.

Hey, Coo! Do you need a green card to enjoy that grass? Huh? Get it? GREEN card?

Alright, I know that’s not exactly how the saying goes, but the sentiment is the same despite my phrasing and, as I’ve noticed more and more this week, the statement continually rings true.

As casually mentioned once or twice in previous blog entries (blatantly stated in every post), I have a strong desire to reside in Europe. I would do just about anything to achieve U.K. citizenship and perhaps even more for residency in the E.U. It is the strongest goal of my life to make this dream a reality.

So, you can imagine my surprise to find there are people out there who wish for the opposite!

This past weekend I met up with friends at one of Manhattan’s Irish pubs (of which there seem to be about ten thousand, by the way). While there, I was introduced to a lovely young girl from England. Like me, she had come to New York a few years ago to attend an acting conservatory (a better one than I) and had simply stayed on afterwards. Unlike me, she wants to stay here indefinitely.

That’s right: she wants to give up her U.K. status and become a U.S. citizen!

Of course, being the calm, cool, collected girl I am, I managed to contain my shock and did not criticize her decision.

*cue the outrageous laughter from my friends and family*

Of course I didn’t.

“What the f*******ck?!”

I’m not very classy when outraged.

“Are you out of your f*****cking mind?!”

This might have been a bit of a social faux pas. Perhaps that’s why I have so few foreign friends?

It is a shame there’s no way we could simply trade passports. Someone needs to establish a “citizen exchange program”.


You know, like in a family friendly comedy film? Like Trading Places or The Parent Trap…okay, so not really like the movies at all. Just give me the damn passport!

The following evening, things got even stranger.

Leaving work, I discovered I’d inadvertently left my headphones behind, which meant my return-trip on the subway would be a long one. As I get off at 4 a.m., the conversations held on the train ride uptown tend to be loud, drunken boasts or the inane ramblings of the more mentally ill of Manhattan’s homeless. After a nine-hour shift waitressing, I greatly prefer to tune out with my playlist rather than subject my mind to other people’s talk. On this night, however, eavesdropping could not be helped.

For once, the dialogue I over-heard proved rather interesting. (Don’t get me wrong, I find the deranged delusions of the A-train Anti-Semite to be fascinating in their own right, but his beliefs—such as Yakamas being mind-control devices—are not really thought-provoking so much as bizarre.)


I was going to post a pic of the crazed man on the A train, but didn’t want to freak my mother out. So, instead, here’s a puppy sleeping on a subway.

At 42nd Street, two gentlemen climbed aboard my car and sat just ahead of me. Like me, they’d just gotten off of work at one of the local clubs and were discussing the evening’s shift. The younger of the two mentioned he was working extra hours because he was saving to buy an apartment.

The elder one thought this to be a very bad idea, and had quite a lot to say on the subject.

“Man, don’t do it. Do not buy a place in New York, it’s not worth it.”

Oh, really?

“No matter what you do you will never own the place! You’ll be oweing on it the rest of your life, trust me. Paying on it the rest of your life, and you’ll never own it. New York’s too expensive.”

He had a point. New York residences are notoriously over-priced: renting my little studio in a dodgy neighborhood ripped the soul from my wallet every month, and I have what many would consider to be a great deal on my place. A Manhattan mortgage would be terrifying to behold.

“I’ve lived in New York my whole life and I’m bout ready to get out!”

Hmm, interesting. The younger man asked where he planned to go.

“I’m moving down South.”

Slap me with a herring and call me Francis: WHAT did he just say?!

“I’m telling you, The South is the way to go. You can get a house, a whole house, for what you pay in rent up here. With a pool, man. And you’d own it. For real.”

Cuz down South we got us a plantation, each!

For real, he’s kind of right. If I made the amount of money in New Orleans that I do waiting tables in Mid-town, there’s no way in hell I’d be in a one-room studio. On the other hand, finding a job that pays this well is neigh on impossible with the economy as it is.

However, if one managed to save a good amount from a New York job and apply it to purchasing property in a Southern state it would certainly go a much longer way than a down-payment on anything in The Big (Expensive and Apparently Made of Platinum) Apple.

“But that aint the best thing in The South, man.”

It aint?

“Best thing is the food! I’m telling you, you’ve never had food like they have down there. Go down for just a visit, get some real soul food, you’ll never want to leave.”

Well, I can’t argue his point there. It’s been over two years since I fled Louisiana for the North and I still fly down to binge on home-food, especially during Crawfish season. Yum.

Still, to return to the South to live? I just don’t know. I love New Orleans, more than I can possibly say, but my god is it HOT in Summer. Augusts nearly kill me: and then there’s Hurricane season. My friends and family just suffered through Isaac while I spent the day cheering on the Blue Jays at Yankee stadium.


This pic will probably prevent my getting an invitation to the next family gathering. Sorry, Louisiana!

Sure, New York has it’s occasional blizzards and the threat of a storm, but I’ve yet to hear of Harlem being washed away by 36 hours of rainfall. I just don’t know if I could take that again.

Also, Bobby Jindal? Forget that! I’ll stick with Bloomberg. (Lesser of evils, people!)

So to recap:


Let’s refer to the map!

The Southern Girl wants to live in Europe, the British girl wants to live in New York, and the New Yorkers are aching to move down South.

I suppose the truth is it’s harder to see the attractions of a place when you’ve grown up with them. The Tower doesn’t steal the breath of Londoners who pass by every day. To them, it is common place, just another castle in Europe.

Just as New Yorkers forget to look up at the amazing sky scrapers about them, Southerners forget that the delicious meals they’re consuming are exotic fair to Yankees who rarely use salt, let alone Tabasco.

Is it simply human nature to long for something other than home? For the new, novel, and exotic? Are we doomed to a life of desire, never to appreciate what we have until we’re apart from it?

I wonder, is there anyone out there content with the grass they’ve been given?

So, you’re saying if I act like a Coo I can come in?


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