Sunday morning the weather warmed up, sunlight streamed in the windows. Alistair and I spent a few hours in the kitchen preparing for a brunch party in honor of his birthday. The brunch came together quite fast, and we'd only given guests four days notice, so it would be a small group. I Googled Ina Garten's brunch recipes and we decided to do almost everything from her suggested menu. Day-of I chopped celery and with a few other ingredients, blended everything into a Bloody Mary mix. While Alistair cleaned, I made a cream cheese frosting and used the technique I saw the ladies at Georgetown Cupcake employ: a heap of frosting on a silicon spatula, give it a slap on the cupcake, bounce it up and down, smooth it evenly and make sure to lift the spatula with a flourish so that the top curls. Together we made a smoked salmon, dill and goat cheese frittata. Ten minutes before the first guest, Alistair was still flipping pancakes in his pajamas.
I made guests Aperol Spritzes, or Mimosas or heavy-on-the-vodka Bloody Marys. We all sat around the sofa and giggled over typical dinner-party conversation. In the middle of a story we saw one of the guests across the street and yelled out the window at him. Alistair refused to let us sing Happy Birthday and I had so many Aperol Spritzes that I was hungover at 9 pm.
I was fully recovered on Monday. The weather was just as warm, if not warmer, so during my usually coffee house trip before my writing group meeting I went to Madison Square Park and settled on a bench. There were dogs everywhere. Some chased the squirrels and some sniffed my bare ankle politely.
Tuesday night Alistair and I had an event on the Clipper Stad Amsterdam, a tall ship that sailed all the way from Amsterdam to New York City. It was cold and rainy, so they put a tarp over the deck and gathered everyone in The Longroom. Most of the guests were Dutch. They told me about their lives till now, and I realized how little I know about the Dutch! Afterwards Alistair and I went to Cookshop for a late dinner. We got a corner seat with a good view of the action. It's a busy, loud place, full of well-dressed people, and business dinners and dates. My first boyfriend used to work there and one of our dates was there. In that way it has always been a key part of my early New York memories. It was only 11-years-ago but it feels like even longer.
Wednesday night I had to run a few errands in West Village, same as the week before. I found another bench in Washington Square Park but it was cold, and the more the sun sank the colder I became. I walked through the park and noticed everyone had lined up to take a picture in front of the only tree that bloomed. Alistair met me for our dinner at Otto with a friend visiting from London. I was in a rare form, outspoken and tipsy, and feared I left a bad impression. I mentioned this to Alistair on our ride home, this worry that I've become a Levin (Konstantin!). "No babe, I'm always proud of you," he said.
Thursday night I ran errands in Soho. Friday I left work and immediately headed to midtown to Bibble and Sip. I was a few minutes early so I took time to bathe in in the audacity of Times Square. Then sat on a park bench next to a homeless man.
"Can I have a cigarette?" he asked. As a New Yorker, there's always the moment when you have to size up the mental state of the person sitting next to you. He looked very sane.
"I'm sorry, I don't smoke," I said.
"Can I have some spare change?" he asked.
"I'm so sorry, I don't have any cash," I said.
We sat in silence for awhile. It started to rain but not heavily.
"Happy Passover," he said reverently. I decided that I liked him.
My friend arrived and we got lattes (mine with lavender) and took them to a quiet hotel lobby to talk. I enjoyed myself very much and we made plans to meet up again for dinner someday. The rain picked up when I left. I removed my wet clothes at home and realized that I had a cold. I ordered a bowl of ramen, hoping the bone broth would help, and started packing. I would be in Washington D.C. the next day to see Philippa.
Alexa, chimed at 6 am on Saturday. I dragged myself awake, ate my leftover ramen with a shot of espresso and took a Lyft to the Chinatown bus station. Kennedy, my Montauk friend that I met through Philippa, met me there. It took almost 6 hours to get to D.C. I read and slept and looked at the expanse of small towns, and farms, and everything between big cities that I forget in my crazy vortex of New York. It was beautiful weather in D.C. We left Philippa's house around 3 pm for brunch at a Mexican restaurant on the second floor of a building. It was outside but covered by a temporary ceiling so the breeze came through. Kids in their 20s were dancing around in short-shorts and floral dresses off the shoulder.
"This is very Sloppy Tuna," I said to them, referencing one of the Montauk haunts we only started going to last year. When my Margarita arrived I smiled. "And I haven't had one of these since Sloppy Tuna." We all laughed.
That afternoon I had an embarrassment in the bathroom (our bodies are just louder than we want sometimes), but otherwise, had a great time. We sat in Philippa's backyard the rest of the afternoon and evening by a fire. When the sun went down we made burgers and s'mores.