This past week one of my favorite girls was in the city. I’ve known her since I was nine. We grew up together in Cocoa Beach. She was my sister’s best friends, and always like another sister to me. When it was time for her to go to college, I convinced her to join me in New York City, and for another four years we did almost everything together. It wasn’t until that miserable September in ’01 that she left. And I’ve missed her since. These days she’s living in Florida, but thanks to her job, she comes to New York twice a year. And, of course whenever she’s here, I get to see her, even if just for dinner at the end of the workday.
So it was Wednesday afternoon. It was pouring rain and I still had a few hours in the office. My phone rang and on the other end my friend was asking for a recommendation on where she and her co-worker to go for a cozy happy-hour drink. Little did she know she put me to my favorite test—to send them to a place they would never forget; to share with them a piece of my New York. But being at work, on the personal call, with my boss just over the partition wall, on the spot, I came up blank. Of course I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I had her wait for a minute. And then it came to me. I’d send them to The Raines Law Room. I had been to this place a year before and though it is quite a memorable gem, I would have forgotten it had I not read a friend’s recent post about it on her blog “My Heart, New York”. Thanks for the reminder Mel!
So off they go to Raines. Fifteen minutes later, I get a text that reads: “Perfect!! We love this place. It’s so great. Thank you!!” Two hours later I arrived there to join them for one more cocktail before dinner, and on and on they continued how the place is ‘so New York’ and how it will forever be on their must-do list whenever they come back. So, I earned a feather in my cap for that one.
After Raines Law Room, we headed down to Grove Street to a new little star called Buvette. I had never been, but had heard its praises being sung through a grapevine of stylish New Yorkers I kind-of know. And, I’d taken a few peaks at their blog so fittingly entitled “I Love Buvette” and at the dreamy photos alone, felt captivated by its charm.
We arrived at the tiny West Village hideaway where waiting patrons had trickled onto the sidewalk and inside, the scene was one that could easily be mistaken for chaos, but in New York is all part of the experience. A cacophony of clanking glasses, of fork and knife, nutcrackers cracking walnut shells, conversations upon conversations; waiters dancing amongst quaint wooden tables cluttered with tiny plates of French inspired goodness from the kitchen; lights, candles, mirrors, wine; a harmonious clamor playing out under a pressed tin ceiling.
So as I imagined, the girls loved it. Another feather in my cap…yeah, yeah, yeah. As we sat over our plates of country paté, and creamy cow’s milk cheese and our little pot of coq au vin, sipping wine and chatting with the eccentric artist couple in the next seats over, my mind kept drifting. Even the mousse au chocolat (that’s more like a dollop of chocolate butter on a plate—and I mean this is a good way) wasn’t enough to keep me thinking, about how when dinner was over, I would go back to my lonely life and the girls would be heading home to their husbands and children. And while we walked down the quiet west village streets my eyes welled up. And then my friend, she looked at me and put her arm around me. And she assured me that it would come some day. And she told me to enjoy every minute of New York until the day it does. We walked on and I dried my eyes and together we reveled in the moonlit night, the trees that canopied the sidewalk, the brownstones that lined the block and the aproned shopkeepers closing up their cafes for the day. “You have this,” she said. “Because you stayed. If you had left, surely you’d be married with kids by now. And If I had stayed here I wouldn’t be. It was the choice you made. And you shouldn’t regret it.”
Thankfully we have friends to remind us of these things. It is the choice I made, yes. And though that night I suppose that fact slipped my mind, I think about it often. I wonder what my life would be like if I’d chosen the other path. I probably would be a wife and a mother. But I wonder too how well not being here would suit me.
I suppose like they say, if I stop looking so hard it will come. I guess I just have to wait and see. And in the meantime, I’ll keep on loving this current (and maybe forever) love of mine. New York.