Can a True Brit (And Her Dog) Conquer New York?

Piers Morgan is missing his wife, writer Celia Walden, and wants her to join him in New York as soon as possible. My advice to her: get here pronto before you start having children or acquiring pets.
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CNN host Piers Morgan is missing his wife, writer Celia Walden, and wants her to join him in New York as soon as possible. My advice to her: get here pronto before you start having children or acquiring pets. And I speak from experience.

I am a British TV producer and for the past decade I have had a NYLON (New York-London) relationship with my husband, novelist, TV producer and blogger, Charlie Carillo.

Charlie once told me that until he met me, he was the kind of guy who wouldn't get involved with women who lived more than a short subway ride from his Greenwich Village apartment.

So, it was quite a shocker when he announced to his family and friends that, despite her imperfect, unbleached teeth and strange accent, he was marrying a Brit who lived 3,500 miles away! All I can say is, you do crazy things when you fall in love.

We met when I worked as the British producer for the American TV show Inside Edition. Charlie was working for the show in New York. Both recently divorced and with kids of a similar age, we embarked on a passionate, transatlantic relationship.

As things became more serious we agreed that our kids had to come first. I didn't want to relocate my children to New York, and Charlie needed to be close to his son who lived just a couple of streets away in the West Village. So, until the children were older and leading independent lives, we would continue to conduct our relationship from two different countries and spend as much time together as we possibly could. The only thing that would come between us would be the Atlantic Ocean.

In a strange way, the toughest part of this unconventional arrangement was the pressure of having to constantly defend our relationship.

When people discovered our set up, they'd smile and say, "Oh how exciting!" What they really meant was, "you poor sucker. This is never going to work. You're kidding yourself."

Charlie's New York friends told him, "I'd love a transatlantic marriage." What they really meant was, 'I wish I was single!"

But in my heart I believed that if anyone could make it work, we could. That's not to say it wasn't an emotional roller coaster.

The romantic reunions and heart wrenching separations were exhausting. My homeward journeys to London were the worst. I became alarmingly familiar to the flight crew as I dramatically sobbed my way across the Pond.

It reached the point that when my husband passed through Heathrow immigration they no longer asked:

"What's the reason for your trip?"

Instead, they'd say: "You again?"

"But once the children are older, we'll be together," we told everyone who asked. In the end you get sick of answering the same old question.

So, when Charlie's son left Manhattan to go away to college my husband packed his bags, rented out his Greenwich Village apartment and moved to London. But the timing was all off. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of an economic tsunami. Brits were finding it hard to land jobs, let alone an American in London, albeit a highly talented and successful one!

Charlie stuck it out for three years, but when he was offered his old job back in Manhattan I told him he should take it.

"Here we go again," I thought. But I knew it was the only way forward. Charlie is a New Yorker through and through. He loves this city. It's what makes him tick, it's who he is and that's what made me fall in love with him in the first place. How could I refuse?

The kids have finally reached that much talked about age of independence, but along the way we managed to complicate our situation further.

Two years ago, In a desperate attempt to divert my mid life crisis, Charlie bought me the most adorable chocolate Labrador on the planet. His name is Bailey and the tactic worked. I am besotted.


There was absolutely no way I could contemplate re-homing him, so I now had to consider whether this lab, used to running free across acres of parkland, could ever be happy strutting around New York. After much soul searching I believe the answer is 'Yes!" Bailey is incredibly sociable and will love the cafe society lifestyle in the village.

So, I have set about making the necessary arrangements for our move. Bailey has a passport, a special crate to fly in and his owner (me) will be on the same flight.

I've been informed that his quarters in the cargo section of the plane are "excellent," which considering they are three times more expensive than mine, damn well should be. When I spoke to the head of the pet travel department he told me, "We have a 100% success rate," before ominously adding the words, "to date."

I take it that means "none of the traveling pets have died en route." "So far."

Still, I believe the only thing likely to kill Bailey on his journey is the enforced fasting aspect. We're not allowed to feed him for five hours prior to check in. This will break his current fasting record by four hours fifty five minutes. Being a lab, Bailey would happily sell his soul for half a biscuit, so this is going to be tough.

He will become a member of the much coveted "Flying Paws Club," which entitles him to a "Welcome On Board Pet Pack" containing a leather passport holder! Of course Bailey would prefer an edible treat but, as you may recall, he will be approximately eight hours into his enforced fast by the time he boards the plane.

So, here we are a decade after our first date. Our kids are grown, our pet problems solved, and I have an immigration lawyer organizing my visas. Things are definitely looking up. It could be just a matter of weeks before we are finally living in New York. Together. Full time. Yikes! This could finish us!

Kim Carillo is a TV Producer and Journalist who divides her time between New York and London.

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