Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones is a bonafide New Yorker these days and, before that, lived in Bermuda. However, that doesn't mean that the actress doesn't miss her home country, Wales.
"America has been really good to me -- really, really good to me -- but I like to hold on to my British status. It's really hard for me because, you know, I've been out of Wales longer than I ever lived there. I left when I was 15," Zeta-Jones says in a new cover story in Stylist magazine. "I really miss just being able to say to my mam or my friends, 'Just come on over for a cup of tea' ... Sometimes, you know, it can be when you want to speak to your mother or your friends and you just go, 'Aw shit, they're sleeping.'"
Zeta-Jones, who is married to actor Michael Douglas, admits that she is shocked that their two children haven't picked up more of her British tastes.
"They don't like Branston Pickle -- to my horror. They don't like Yorkshire puddings -- to my horror," Zeta-Jones explains. "They love a good shepherd's pie because they've been brought up with it, because it's pretty much all I can make fantastically well."
It's interesting that Zeta-Jones mentions her relationship to her home, Wales, and what an odd sensation it is to have lived away from the place where you grew up for longer than, well, the growing up. Because I've been thinking about this lately, too.
I grew up in North Carolina, and spent a large percentage of my teenage years daydreaming of moving to New York City. I decamped for the Big Apple in 1998 as a bright-eyed 18 year-old, ready to attend Barnard College.
But a funny thing happened once I arrived in New York. I found myself inexplicably drawn to things that reminded me of North Carolina. I bonded tightly with my roommate -- who was coincidentally from Greensboro, another city in my home state. I started frequenting a BBQ restaurant that specialized in biscuits, mac and cheese, fried okra -- foods that had seemed ho-hum growing up but that soon seemed like rarefied delicacies to me. I once traveled an hour and a half into Brooklyn to sample a deep fried Oreo, a baked good that I had openly mocked at the North Carolina State Fair years before.
I discovered that instead of hating country music, I actually loved it. One night during my senior year, someone made a bold jukebox selection for the rock'n'roll dive bar: Garth Brooks' "I Got Friends In Low Places." It was a song that, when I lived in North Carolina, led me to turn the radio dial dozens of time. But there, in a New York dive, I found myself belting out lyrics I didn't even realize that I knew. "I got friends in low places/where the whiskey drowns/and the beer chases my blues away/But I'll be okay... "
It took no longer living in North Carolina for me to realize that I adored it. And it sounds like Catherine Zeta-Jones may have had a very similar experience, experiencing parallel nostalgia.
This weekend, I realized that I have now lived in New York for 14 years. When I mentioned this to my dad, he helpfully pointed out that, soon, I would have spent more of my life in New York than North Carolina. The very fulcrum in time that Zeta-Jones mentions feeling so strange to her.
In her interview, as Zeta-Jones talks about missing home, and she also stresses that she is not the posh actress many people imagine.
"I'm not inherently a ball-busting, strong woman. I think there's a perception of me because some of the characters I've played are like that. When I go on the red carpet, I kind of have this air of confidence but it's not me, you know?" she explains. "I'm much more down to earth than people think. Especially with the whole 'Hollywood royalty' nametag and the lifestyle I lead. And it's a very nice lifestyle, thanks. You know, I've worked very hard for it and I appreciate it. But I'm just regular old Cath."
Who, at least, still has that adorable Welsh accent.
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