I’ve written before how Andy was born and raised in Sheffield, England. Located in the middle of the country, Sheffield is a South Yorkshire city that is relatively large. This always surprises me too because when we first met, Andy told me he was from a village on the edge of Sheffield so I find myself still wanting to picture sheep and farmland outside of his home. That is not Sheffield at all though. True, the city is bordered by the beautiful Peak District, which is known for its moors — but Sheffield is an industrial city, one that became known for its steel. It is also known for one of its football teams — Sheffield Football Club, which is the oldest football team in the world, dating back to 1857. Of interest too, it is home to famous bands and singers, including Def Leppard, Jarvis Cocker, and the Arctic Monkeys.
“What else can you tell me about Sheffield — How you feel about Sheffield?” I ask him now.
“It’s, uh, okay . . . I guess,” he says before laughing and this is the normal response I get from him. It is also the reason why I feel he doesn’t actually want me to explore Sheffield when we are there. In fact, the one time we walked through Sheffield’s city center this summer, we were there by mistake — Our plans to visit York were thwarted, which meant he was on a fast mission to get his hair cut and have a wet shave nearby before his friend’s wedding the next day. “It won’t be long then we can leave Sheff,” he promised me.
“But it’s your home,” I told him, trying to stay beside him as he sprinted — quickly — by the city’s buildings.
“L. My home is in the States with you.”
He does this every time I use the word ‘home’ and ‘England’ so that sometimes I think those two words together are almost bad words. And I guess I understand — Born and raised in the same area I’ve lived in all my life, I’m dying to get out and call a new place ‘home.’ For him, he has succeeded in this, and he is proud of that fact — as he should be. So maybe Sheffield isn’t his home currently but it is his first home — the home that made him who he is, and there is something powerful to be said for that.
“All I’m trying to say is can we please” — and I grab his arm, pausing him in a rushed walk — “please, after your haircut and shave, just stroll through Sheffield? I’ve never actually seen Sheffield. You know we pop to pubs and more pubs but I’ve never actually been a tourist in your own city and it would be sad to leave a second time without knowing where my fiancé is from.”
Begrudgingly he agreed and found a way to convince his parents to let us go for a few hours so that we could wander alone to have time to ourselves.
This mean that after his hair cut and shave, here we were — finally — exploring Sheffield. And you wanna know the truth too? I think he actually enjoyed it.
“Look, Andy!” I cried, pointing and looking up at numerous gargoyles that stretched, leering from an old building. “We don’t have gargoyles at home!”
He laughed then and again at me each and every time I pointed to something else in his city. “It’s nice seeing Sheff through your eyes,” he said and I again know what he met. We live in a city I’ve had little positive to say . . . until I met Andy. That’s when I’ve fallen in love with where we live in the States solely from seeing it through his eyes.Slipping past Sheffield Cathedral and down one of the many side streets, I stopped to take a picture of ivy. The vines hung over a wall and seemed stretch to touch people walking on the sidewalk. “It’s just ivy,” he told me smirking.
“I know” and I showed him my pictures. “But there’s beauty here, Andy. And I want you to see it . . . “He smiled and we were off again, this time to one of his favorite pubs. Here, this seemingly lonely building on a street at the very edge of an intersection, rests Three Tuns.
After popping in for a beer, we strolled to the the heart of Sheffield, passing its town hall.
“Ow, I know what you’d like to see,” Andy called while grabbing my hand and walking to this: The Peace Gardens and the Winter Garden.
A glass structure rose behind and I learned it is the largest green house in all of Europe. Inside, over 2,000 plants from all across the world grew and bloomed.Connected to the greenhouse, the Millennium Gallery where above several the ‘bonnets’ (to appease the English) of cars hung, painted in bright colors with gorgeous pictures.
Outside, what is known as “The Cheese Grater” building where Andy refused to tell me anything other than the fact that in order to build it, they had to knock down his favorite pub called Yorkshire Grey. He has more to say about this but it is all a slur of cuss words so I’ll move on in my blog post . . .
We roamed a bit more before he stopped me.
“That was nice,” Andy said, leaning in to kiss me. “It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be” and together we left, headed towards Andy’s home.