My winter of love: I was homesick in New York. The quiet Danish poet was just what I was longing for

We met in a cafe and struck up an intense friendship – soon we were kissing for hours on park benches. Then he asked me to join him on a trip to Iceland

There was a strip of cafes and bars that ran alongside Tompkins Square park in the Lower East Side in New York and none of them minded if all you bought was a single coffee and sat all night long. So I did just that. It was the late 90s, I was 19 years old and I had never lived in a city before. I sat night after night in these cafes, reading books, watching people, drinking too much coffee. I didn’t really have anything else to do, I didn’t know anyone, so I’d sit and watch the East Village whirl around me.

I wasn’t the only lonely kid, though. After a while I noticed another sitting night after night in Café Pick Me Up, a studious young man feverishly filling up notebooks. Café Pick Me Up was a cosy little place with a low pressed-metal ceiling, crammed full of tiny tables, with French cafe chairs and mellow lighting. If you were to write a romcom featuring a meet cute, you’d set it there.

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