On the Occasion of My 10 Year Anniversary in New York

In December 2007 my parents arrived in New York City a few days before me to co-sign my new lease. Following my last college exams I hopped on a plane to join them, it was December 14, 2007. New York and I had a long courtship -- I always say it that way -- I spent summers and winters between 2003-2007 making trips to New York City. I interned in the city the summer of 2007 and after that there was no doubt about my decision. One night after having dessert with new friends at Good Enough to Eat, I rode home in a cab with the window down, perfect weather, passing strangers in the street and dark buildings with lights on. How could anyone want anything other than this? 

I knew, however, that I was too soft for New York City. I spoke at a near whisper, if I was overcharged at the grocery store I'd just accept it and leave. I never was one for complaining, and that was the appeal of New York. I wanted to live somewhere known for beating its inhabitants to a pulp and therefore carving them into sufficient, resilient, assholes. I thought of it as basic training. I would arrive a quiet, annoying, never-been-kissed, doormat-waif, and become just like "Shaft" in the opening credits, a bad mother-fucker who crosses against the light and just doesn't give a shit.

Yes, that vision exactly.

So, I moved in the winter of 2007. My parents had picked for me a luxury, high-rise one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side that they paid $2,600 a month for. Nervous and protective, they greased my doorman to "watch out for me." Whenever I waited in the lobby for a cab to take me to a 9 pm dinner, he would grill me. "Where ya headed? Who ya seeing? When do you think you'll be home?" I was lucky, but also, completely unrealistic. I thought everyone lived in New York that way.

That first month I spent all my time in Starbucks writing, at Bloomingdale's shopping, or at the ballet. I was working on a book project that would give me free tickets, so I was there two nights a week. I finally got a full-time job that February, and with it, some new friends. I suffered through culture shock the remainder of that first year. For three days one winter I cried endlessly trying to figure out how to conform without really changing my core values. I'd come from a really conservative community with ideals that were not upheld in New York. I didn't fit in. In my third year my little sister moved up and we got a place at 89th and First Avenue together. The fourth and fifth years, we moved apart, and I moved to 68th and First Avenue and lived in a rent-stabilized hole in the wall without a bathroom sink. Two years later, I landed in my current place uptown. 

I've had so many good moments in New York these past 10 years. So many awe-filled walks in the summertime, pleasant conversations with tourists, good days. I laugh when I think of all the stupid things I've done in my naïvety: like overpaying for brunch, engaging in conversation with people when I'd rather not, that one Thanksgiving at a friends-of-a-friends when the host rudely asked everyone who brought sides to pitch in $20 for the turkey before they left, that one time I told myself I'd go on a little walk in Central Park and got lost for hours, when I decided stupidly to shutter my first blog (which got 1,600 visitors per day!) because of "writers block." All the men I dated! (In most cases, I was the problem, not them). I still cringe with embarrassment when I remember ordering my first cocktail at a Fashion Week after-party: 

Me: What's the free cocktail that everyone is getting? 
Bartender: Pink. (A new liquor drink that no one drinks anymore.)
Me: I'll have a Pink please.
Bartender: With what? Like, soda or tonic or something?
Me: You can get it with things?

This is the part where I'm supposed to write: "And then I grew up." But is that true? I suppose in a way I've started saving for retirement, I get a decent amount of telemarketing phone calls, I haven't scheduled preventative botox, but I still call the hordes of kids knock-down-drunk in East Village "the young folk." 

Looking back, I never had any idea what I would be in 10 years time. I knew I'd eventually be living in a much cheaper neighborhood (I am). I hoped I'd be working at a magazine (I do). I'd hoped that I'd still be in love with the city, and I am. If there's a honeymoon phase, I'm still in it -- the idiot who finds Times Square to be magical. Even though I have learned how to make a good complaint and challenge someone for being rude, I'm still a few years away from being "Shaft." But I'm looking forward to it. 

Everything I Ate in Paris and London



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Red wine, foie gras, perfectly poofed cheddar and chive soufflé, chocolate soufflé.
Three o'clock in the afternoon, La Cigale Récamier
At an outdoor table, Edward and I ease into wicker chairs, order a glass of wine, and then he says: "I can't believe you are in Paris with me." I'd arrived at noon after a horrible flight (I'm usually lucky on long hauls -- empty rows, decadent meals, good movies, waking refreshed). This time it was a nightmare, I slept one hour, there wasn't food service and my checked luggage was damaged. Edward had already arrived by train from Geneva. After landing, I headed to our hotel, Les Dames du Pantheon. He was leaning out of the window of our room, as if he knew I was arriving. An hour later were having lunch -- completely in awe at being together in Paris. After too much wine, Edward wanted to show me the Hermes store that was built from an existing swimming pool. I was tipsy, and we discovered my new tipsy talent: blindly pricing Hermes furniture. 

Yours truly at Café de Flore.

Yours truly at Café de Flore.

Noisette. Water.
Five o'clock in the evening, Cafe de Flore
We wandered St. Germain, shopped at Le Bon Marche and realized that we needed more coffee, so we stopped at Café de Flore. When we left, Edward noticed a famous philosopher and author reading the paper at one of the outside tables. I'm reminded of my first trip to Paris, when I was too afraid to go to the cool cafes alone. Was it really only five years ago that I was walking the St. Germain in the cold, trying to make myself love Paris, going back to my apartment and stirring Prozac into juice, falling asleep to the television? Back when I imagined a vacation would make me a mentally healthy person?

Two glasses of champagne, medium rare steak, wine, a shot of limoncello with a straw.
Evening, Le Poulette de Grain
I only know three people in Paris and Henri is one of them. When I visited in 2012, Henri and I spent two days together, and have kept in touch since. Henri and his girlfriend meet us for dinner in the Bastille and announce that they are actually engaged! A celebration this big calls for many toasts and therefore, many drinks. I climb into bed that night feeling as if my 2012 trip were yesterday, and that he and I are still the same people. [I also go to bed frustrated: embarrassingly, the waiter gaves me an iPad with an English menu -- I was the only English speaker at the table (Edward grew up speaking French). It becomes apparent that the French language is my lifelong rival. I took it in middle school, college and two years worth of private lessons in New York and yet, I still need the iPad to get by.]


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Bottled still water.
Four o'clock in the morning, Le Dames du Pantheon
We wake up to loud music playing at the hotel room next door, a song is ending, and the beginning of "New York, New York" starts. Edward lifts the receiver of our vintage 1960s phone (its a boutique hotel, with a 60s mod theme) and whispers in French. The only thing I can translate him saying is: "We can hear music, 'New York, New York.'" Then much more is said in French, then he hangs up.

"What did the night manager say?" I ask Edward. 

"He can't call him but he can come up and knock on the door." 

In silence, we wait for the managers footsteps to come up the hotel spiral staircase. Then we hear him rapping on the door, but the music doesn't stop. Edward puts on earplugs.



Croissant, apple tart, cold pressed orange juice, noisette.
Early morning, Dalloyau 
We eat at a cafe above the Jardin du Luxembourg. Out the cafe window I can see the park to my right, a traffic circle around a fountain, businesses, limestone. I keep asking myself the same question I asked in 2012: "Why does Paris seem so grim to me? Why can't I get that feeling everyone else gets here? What's wrong with me?"

Lobster ravioli in foam (Me: I hate foam! Edward: Wait till it goes away.), white wine, tuna tartare. 
Around three o'clock in the evening, somewhere near L'Opera
We visit Les Invallides and the Paris Opera House and then go to a restaurant Edward knows well. We think we're getting the prix fixe menu, but it was a misunderstanding with the waiter. Two full sized portions come for each of us.

"We'll need to go on a major cleanse after this trip," we laugh. 

Aperol spritz (served in a wine glass the size of a bowl).
Late afternoon, Le Stella
After the wedding we attended, there's a few hours time before the reception, so a few of the guests have decided to go drink. We walk from the wedding to a bar. What once was sun is now rain and I take Edward's arm and he holds our umbrella. "A gentleman!" some men joke as we pass. I am in four-inch heels, a pale pink lace dress and a trench coat. I think to myself: isn't it what every girl daydreams Paris is like? Wearing high heels and dashing to a cafe? Drinks last a little over an hour and despite just meeting these wedding guests today we have a very fun chat. I like these people a lot. Especially the French girl named Clara who has a very-French bob.

White wine, red wine for the second course, wild mushrooms, duck, sweet potatoes, Paris Brest
7 o'clock in the evening, Le Petit Retro
The wedding reception is in the private room of a charming cafe. The menu for the evening says that dessert is "surprise" and when Paris Brest's arrive everyone coos. It is my first, and I adore it. (Weeks later, I will get a craving and buy one from Francois Payard.) Over dinner we discuss politics, the French relationship to politics, apartments, apartment prices, tourism in Iran, Blackberry keyboards, World War II, Brooklyn in the 50s, and how all the couples met. We drive along the Seine on the way home, and I want so badly for the Eiffel Tower to sparkle as we pass. 


Friday, October 6, 2017

Croissant, baguette with butter, omelette, greens with olive oil and vinegar, noisette.
Early morning, Rotisserie du Pantheon
We spend the morning at the Pantheon (and get to see Foucault's Pendulum) and return to the hotel to put on our fancy clothes for another wedding party at a private club, Cercle de l'Union Interalliée. In the bathroom, I hear the sound of horse hooves on cobblestone (the prettiest sound) and open my window to see a carriage passing below.

Ham and brie on baguette, a bite of a canaille.
Gare du Nord
We miss our train from Paris to London and spend a half hour in the lounge snacking.

"I might cry," I warn Edward about our trip to London. For me, it is not some city, but the moment of my life that I stepped out of something into something else. I want to say "milestone" but it is not the right word. Edward just laughs. I'm still in shock when our high-speed train reaches St. Pancras. I don't know it, but I will exist this way the entire trip -- not feeling like I'm actually in London again. Clearly, I am in a mirage.
I looked down at my lapel of my coat. "Do we need poppies? Is it time for poppies?" It wasn't. It was too early.


Champagne, wine, two fingers of bourbon, salmon grilled outdoors, red rice and grains, broccoli rabe, pear poached in saffron with ice cream.
A Private Home in The Mews
Our hosts, Edward's friends, throw a dinner party upon our arrival. They put a grill out in their street (a Mews! A quaint Mews! I adore it!). I play with their newborn and swill champagne and feel comfortable and warm, even as a stranger to them. I love learning all the London slang and local knowledge. They explain to me what a "chav" is.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Egg and bacon on a roll, brown sauce, espresso.
Ten o'clock in the morning, Fischer's in Marlybone
Breakfast. I learn that no one knows what is in Brown Sauce. It is just an English thing.

Quiche, wine, salad with walnut oil, carrots.
Private home.
Edward's niece invites us over to lunch, which is also as relaxing and lovely as dinner the night before. There is also another cute baby at which to fawn over. On the walk from the train we pass through Queens Park, and I see my first autumn leaf. 

Tea at Fortnum's.

Tea at Fortnum's.

Fort Mason tea, two scones with clotted cream (dressed in the Devon fashion), a stilton cheese and raspberry tart, venison pâté, an egg filled with lobster and soft scrambled eggs, truffle puff pastry, a variety of tea sandwiches, a lemon custard tart, a chocolate cream roll. 
Four o'clock in the afternoon, Fortnum and Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.
It is noted again that we will need a cleanse upon arriving to New York. 

Dumplings, duck fried rice, pork ribs, Negroni.
Nine o'clock in the evening, The Duck and Rice
Edward and I walk in the dark to a late reservation. There are all sorts of young people out and on their way to bars. At one intersection, two smartly dressed men in nice shoes are foot racing down the street and a crowd of their friends are cheering them on. I can't remember who won. I want to know how this all got started, how they know one another. I remember that if I had gone to the university in London that I was accepted to that I would have been there at the same time as Edward. Would we have met? Would we have gone on one of these walks through Soho on a date?


Sunday, October 8, 2017


Chocolate cake. 
Early morning, a private home in The Mews.
We have leftover cake from tea at Fortnum's for breakfast, followed by a brisk walk through Hyde Park. My heart sings in Hyde Park. I'd come there in 2011 on my first trip to London and of all the memories I've had in my life, Hyde Park is a beacon among them.

My first English Sunday Roast (roast beef, vegetables, yorkshire pudding), chicken pâté, sparkling water.
Noon, a hotel restaurant in Marylebone.
Our last meal in London with Edward's friends from high school. I feel bad that we're rushing through the meal to make it to our flight, and even more guilty that I am the only person seated who doesn't speak French fluently. 

Gin and tonic, fish sandwich.
Three o'clock in the afternoon, Gatwick Airport Lounge
It's my first time in an airport lounge. My first time at Gatwick. For the first time on a return flight, I do not write and I do not sleep for longer than fifteen minutes. I watch a few awful films. 

Steamboat Springs

Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park.

It would become the story we told all summer: Philippa emerged from the Rocky Mountain National Park bathroom, rounding a corner, and shouting across a parking lot to me. 

"Ariel! Have you seen my phone?" 

"Uh," she had given it to me a few times to carry during our short hike through the woods. If I did have it, it would be inside my backpack. A' jumble with water bottles, trail mix, hardboiled eggs, and spiced pepitas. 

"I hope it wasn't in my pocket and fell in the toilet," she said. 

Suni walked back to the stream where we stopped, maybe it was over there when we were chatting with the other hiker. Philippa went back to the bathroom to check and later, as I was still digging through dirty socks and boarding passes, Philippa screamed. 

"Ariel! Come here!" This time with more sadness in her voice. I walked to the bathroom. She was standing outside, pouting. I expected that it was indeed in the toilet. I rolled up a sleeve of my Obama sweatshirt, totally prepared to pull it out. I'm hardly a germaphobe when there was soap around. 

I opened the door to the bathroom and looked down the toilet. It wasn't a toilet, it was a latrine! The phone was about 10 feet down, sinking in human waste. 

"It's gone!" I heard Philippa saying through the door. I left the bathroom and stood with she and Suni and tried to think of a plan. 

"I can call someone," Suni said. "Maybe a park ranger?" An Italian tourist walked up and put her hand on the bathroom knob. 

"Don't go to that one," Philippa said. "something is wrong with it." 

"Yeah," Suni and I chimed in. "Yeah, go to the other one..." 

The woman nodded and went to the bathroom next door. We stood there a bit, and suddenly Philippa said that we should consider the phone gone. Even if a ranger could get it out, would she want it? Defeated, we walked through the dusty parking lot back to Suni's champagne Subaru. 

"What if I want to take pictures?" Philippa said sullenly as the car climbed up the side of the mountain and towards the tundra covered in snow. 

"Take a picture with your heart," Suni said. Philippa was aghast.

"You can't take a picture with your heart!" 


Colorado, in short, is mountain peaks, valleys, wide lakes with deep blue water, and curling roads. Moose, elk, bears, mountain lions. Beautiful vista after beautiful vista. Suni took us up the roads she knew so well: the drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs, a small valley town in northern Colorado. Population 10,000. It was known for being a big ski destination, so it had the sheen that I always imagined Aspen had (clean streets, newish store facades and a main street). When Suni lived in New York she spoke a lot about Steamboat's Fourth of July celebration. Everyone went to a parade, ate free hot dogs, drank root beer floats and danced at block party. Then in the afternoons, they went tubing on the river. That made my barbecue and homemade-ice cream Fourth of July celebrations look like child's play.

At some point, before Suni moved from New York to a monastery, we discussed the idea of visit each others hometowns. Philippa's in Sri Lanka, Suni's in Colorado and mine, in Mobile, Alabama. Suni's was first.

If I had the gall to outline the trip in detail, it'd be another 7-post wonder like that of my Las Vegas series. We piled so many good things in our five days -- like the day we spent in the hot spring, our toes settling in the rocky bottom of the pool. There was the day we did a hungover hike through windy ridge. We had to sit on a rock to rest, and a group of elderly people marched past us. "Don't give up," they said smugly, "you're almost there." A mud pit ate Philippa's shoe. The Yampa river, which were warned was wild and raging, also got the best of us. Suni and I thought we'd just float down the river together on a tube, and as soon as she hit the current she was carried out yards from me. I paddled frantically towards her and a stranger rescued me by grabbing my tube and pushing me into the current. When I looked down, the struggle was so great, half of my chest was exposed and I didn't even know it. 

Between activities, we enjoyed the Colorado quiet. Suni's parents built a fire for us during dinners outside and we sat around eating s'mores. We listened to her parents tell us camp fire stories: the time her father stuck his head down a bear hole to meet a sleeping bear, how her mother and father met (it's the best meet-cute in history). One night Suni called all her friends over for tacos. Everyone was so delightfully western, one of the girls even lived in a Tiny House. 

Taco night.

Taco night.

"Guess how I lost my phone?" Philippa asked the friends. One of them smiled. 

"Hm, did put it in your pocket and forget and then when you went to the bathroom it fell in?" she said. 

"How did you know!?" Philippa and I asked. 

"You look like the type of person who would do that," she laughed. 

Though brush fires cancelled Fourth of July fireworks, we still had a very full holiday. We went to the parade and watched the townspeople represent their various clubs and businesses with floats. That evening, after another outdoor dinner, the neighbors started lighting fireworks. Big, majestic displays started popping all over the town under the hill where we stood. Suni's parents went to the basement and pulled out their supply of roman candles and sparklers and big things that shot up in the air, and on the street we lit a few of our own.



"But, Smokey the Bear says--" I started to stammer nervously. 

"You really listen to him?" laughed Philippa.


On our last day in Colorado, we got breakfast and coffee to go, and Suni drove us up to one of the town's waterfalls. It was so early in the morning that we had it all to ourselves. Then we hit the road, going north into Laramie, Wyoming, to check another state off our list, then back down to Ft. Collins for lunch and finally a bus back to Denver and then a plane to New York. 

I've learned that sometimes traveling is like wearing a costume: you do the things, you wear the clothes, you eat the foods. You become something else. (I think that's part of the fun of going to Vegas, the costume is forced absurdity and if you ride with it, you're guaranteed absurdity.) In Colorado we rode in the Subaru, ate elk and lived in hiking boots. Philippa even went to F.M. Light, the household name cowboy store, and left with a pair of boots and a cowboy hat. When we arrived that afternoon to the Denver Airport, we queued under glass ceilings and waited by metal pillars and metal walls. I remember thinking, "no this is too soon" to give up the trees and soft green grass. My bear anxiety replaced with that of currency, timing. 

Candy Rose

On a Thursday morning in Vancouver, Edward and I had breakfast in our hotel room and went outside. We needed "travel things." My comb bristles broke and I needed socks for hiking. He needed another bottle of his signature scent: Penhaligon's in Blenheim Bouquet. 

"Hey look," I said, pointing to a sandwich board on West Hastings that advertised for a perfume shop. Penhaligon was on the list of perfumes. "It's perfect." We turned and walked through a small, quiet mall. The doorway to the shop was open and a shopkeeper was sitting behind a desk. 

"Hello, what are you looking for?" she said. She had short dark and hair and an undetectable accent. Edward told her he was looking for Penhaligon's and she spritzed him with a sampling and boxed up a bottle that he quickly bought. 

"And you, dear?" the woman asked. Edward encouraged me to purchase a scent since I was always unhappily rotating. I was up for trying something new, but I'd barely finished the multiple bottles at the house and I couldn't really afford it. But there was something about that place, if you were going to by a perfume you had to buy it from there. It was quaint, charming, authentic. "What kind of things do you like?" she asked. 

"I wear a lot of things, mostly really cheap silly stuff," I said rattling off an embarrassing list of department store brands that were once the fads. "I like really clean scents. I don't like citrus and absolutely no musk." 

The woman smiled and looked me up and down like she was reading me. I let my vivid imagination and writerly brain run wild -- a story about a perfumer who was actually psychic who reads customers and gives her life prescriptions under the guise of giving directions for perfume. I've romanticized the idea that a stranger can look at you and tell you exactly what you need.

"I think, for you I'm going to give you something absolutely different than what you're used too," she said. "Is that OK?"

I said it was. She started to rummage through her bottles. I didn't recognize them. She made small talk as she selected, asking us what brought us to Vancouver (a wedding) and where we were from (New York). Then she had me hold out my arm, and she took out a bright pink atomizer and gave it a quick, punctuated tap with the heel of her hand. Then she began fanning wildly. "We have to let it sit a bit, don't rub it. We need your own scent to come through." 

After a few moments she gave my wrist a sniff. "What is this you are wearing already? There's something here," she said. The hotel body wash from my shower still lingered. Surely it had worn off on our morning walk.

"I'm not wearing anything," I stammered. 

Edward narrowed his eyes. "There was this awful smelling scent at the hotel," he said. He'd actually said so after his shower. 

"I do not like it," she said. She grabbed a bottle of antibacterial sanitizer and began wiping my arm down with it until the offending scent was gone. Then again, another concentrated spritz from the pink bottle. 

I sniffed. "It smells OK." 

"Go outside," she said, pointing to the mall hallway. I went out of the store, just one step from the threshold to an entry way.  What a difference! The scent was now alive and in the hallway where I stood, it felt like the only living thing. I walked back in, smiling. 

"See?" she said, looking as if the matter had been set, and some balance restored to my aura, if that was even possible. God, the promise of a remedy. But a remedy to what? Everything was fine. I was traveling -- in the summertime -- my dream for a long while when I couldn't afford since summertime travel was often the most expensive. I felt that I didn't deserve to be traveling. That I didn't deserve perfume, sunshine, the comb I'd bought at Miniso. It's just like that trip to Montauk where I felt so guilty I even whispered it to Philippa and she thought I was crazy.

I didn't buy the perfume. The shopkeeper put a sampling of it in a small bottle and wrote the name of it on the side. It was by a maker I'd never heard of, a small French family. Later that afternoon, I looked at the label: "Candy Rose." 

The Record On Repeat (Montauk)

The hotel's indoor pool was on a sub level, reachable by an elevator and a hallway lined with black and white photos from the 1920s. The pool was in a white room with white walls, mirrors lined on one side and a tiny rectangular hot tub. "It's a cave," Philippa had said when I asked her what it was like.

Before 11 pm, still happy from my meal at the Crow's Nest, I slid into the bubbly rectangle in the cave, the water rising up to my chin. I then got up to my waist in the heated pool, then I told Edward I was going to sit in the sauna and borrowed his flip flops.

The sauna and bathroom were also white. There were rows of lockers and I followed the hallway to a corner where the wooden door led to the sauna, and pulled it open. It was empty. I could hear the hiss of the sauna and feel the heat. So I sat on my hands, my bathing suit still damp. A quick seven seconds passed and the sauna grew cold, I imagined that maybe its cycle had run out. I opened the door and stuck my head in the hall, looking to see that the sauna was still on. To be sure, I cranked up the heat a touch by arbitrarily turning a knob that looked like it needed turning, and went back in. 

I had a feeling that is unwritable -- a strange feeling of otherness in the room. It embarrasses me even writing about it, even more embarrassing as I looked around myself in the sauna, as I slowly had the realization that maybe I wasn't alone. And if I wasn't alone, what was there? The sauna wasn't heating up, like someone was playing a prank and turning the knob. I got up and left, rushing quickly through the white-walled-bathroom and back out to the pool where Edward was sitting. 

"That was the quickest sauna trip ever," Edward said. "you look pale." 

"I think...I think there was a ghost in there," I said. "I just felt like I wasn't alone." 


I have loved Montauk since last summer after a last-minute girls weekend. It was the kind of thing that's too spontaneous to overthink which made it perfect in its execution, and allowed us to still be surprised and awed of the things we found. We swam in pools surrounded by trees and flower bushes, we drank beer at the beach and had outdoor, bare-shouldered, sunburnt, rosé laden dinners. Perfect sunsets were in excess. The highlight of that trip was a long afternoon sail, where I cried with a sea captain, which I wrote about for this blog. I would return to New York and run into friends who would say: "I love the post about Montauk; about the sea captain." 

I couldn't wait to get back. 

A few weeks before Memorial Day Philippa put the gears in motion for another trip to Montauk. We'd stay at the same hotel, The Montauk Manor. The only issue was the weather, it would barely reach 60 degrees, but we could do hikes, we could have nice dinners and the hotel pool was heated. Philippa would bring her husband, Martin, and I would bring my boyfriend Edward. 

On May 27th, Edward slid into a seat on the LIRR train and said: "I'm feeling rather smug." There were girls were squished together on the floor on top of their monogrammed L.L. Bean canvas tote bags and cross-legged in Lululemon pants. There were people standing the corridors, and Philippa texted me from another part of the train, "We're standing," she said. Someone spilled their Bellini on Martin. 

The last time I was in Montauk the train ride was empty, relaxing. This time I was heading into a big holiday weekend: Memorial Day. The partiers were out and ready, Instagraming and complaining. People were dropping lines like, "I'll die if the one time I don't go to Spain he's there." 

I'm secretly envious of the cool kids. Montauk offers adjacency to the cool kids, enough closeness that I can pretend I didn't spend high school hiding and not speaking, that I didn't have a lonely undergrad at a university that has to be mentioned up north with a, "no ones ever heard of it, it was just a state school where I grew up." I can wear a costume by going to the right beach and dining and the good spots. It's annoying to know that all those social foibles and dorkiness would still bother me at thirty-two years old. 

We land at Montauk and get a cab to The Montauk Manor. When we enter the front corridor I'm met with the same beautiful hallways and soft piano music echoing off the lobby arches. We drop our bags and decide to go to Gosman's Deck for lunch. It's sunny enough to eat outdoors under an umbrella and Philippa and I recount our last trip to the boys. 

A sailboat approached. 

"I'll cry if its the same boat I rode on last summer," I say, seeing the sails. It turns out to be the very same boat, so Philippa, Edward and I ran to the deck to get a picture of me watching it sail away. It was a long lunch, two bottles of wine and seafood. We giggled quite a lot. We had ice cream after and took the hotel shuttle back to the manor. Our driver, I realize, was our same driver from last year, a thirty-something local named Peter who knows Montauk like the back of his hand. He had a high aversion to the rich kids who spend all their nights at the Surf Lodge or Sloppy Tuna. He always had good recommendations for the best of Montauk, he would point at a place and tell us to go there, always using the same adjective: "That place? That place is solid.

I get a kick out of knowing someone in this town. The locals never change, everyone knows everyone. It reminds me of all my vacations as a child and teen. We always went to New Orleans, and we delighted in knowing our way around, in knowing just enough to feel at home but not too much. The return traveller has a shallow sort of love, they never want to see what gears turn underneath a city so they never have to complain about the traffic on the twenty-seven -- but they want to know that the twenty-seven exists. 

Back at the manor I decided to give Edward a tour, and we started walking south toward a group of trees. 

"Let's go in here," he said. I hung back, a little frightened of trespassing. Edward held up a hand for me to take. "We'll just look." 

We ducked under some brush and found ourselves in a graveyard. It's very minimalist, none of the plots have headstones but little discrete markers in various places. Flags line the veterans graves, and a massive stone sat in the middle of the yard that belonged to the Native American's who lived on the site. I find great peace there, and so we continue walking till we reach a cliff overlooking a body of water. Edward admitted that he felt calmed by the wild grass and trees and the silence. 

We spend the next hours watching sunset at the hotel, and then went to the Crow's Nest but couldn't get a table, and instead had a a drink on the waterfront and dinner at South Edison. It's cold at night, I wished it were warmer.

The next morning we had breakfast in town, picked up beach provisions at the local market and headed to Ditch Plains. The sun came out and in the warmth we shed our clothes for bathing suits. The water was too cold to swim. Martin, the only brave one, took a dip. We went back to the room, watched a bit of TV and dressed for the Crow's Nest. I'd talked up the place so much: about the table we got under the arbor on the grass, the watermelon cocktails and scallops and ricotta with grilled bread. Is all else failed, we could count on the Crow's Nest to be beautiful and delicious. 

We had a wonderful meal, and went back down to the bar by the water but the weather was cold. Edward and I resolved to go back to the pool and spa after dinner. 

Up to that evening, talk of ghosts had been rampant. Every time we boarded the hotel shuttle a driver would tell us a story about the ghosts at the hotel, which was built on top of a Native American burial ground.

"Once I was in the pool after it closed, late at night," says Peter. "And I saw something in the mirror go into the bathroom. And I'm thinking, 'Who is in here the pool is closed,' so I go in the bathroom and there's no one there. It was a shadow."

Edward called bullshit on this story. Another driver tells us that the fourth floor lights every night at 4 a.m. flicker, and a waiter in the hotel restaurant says that when he was setting tables for dinner service one night the lights were flickering to the music.

"Like, to the beat," he says widening his eyes and raising his hand and lowering it like a DJ. Edward called bullshit on this story, too. 

Martin and Edward did not believe in ghosts; Martin a doctor and a man of science believed it was all a figment of our imagination. Philippa and I were in the other camp. Philippa had a few experiences here or there. Me, nothing, no ghosts, no ghouls, no fantom phone calls from the dead, no devil cars following me at midnight, no rustle in the bushes (and yes, those were all real-life ghost stories culled from friends). The first time I stayed at the Montauk Manor I experienced nothing. I felt so sure that the hotel wasn't haunted that I felt comfortable enough to come back. 

Edward and I put on our swimsuits and walked to the pool. After my experience at the sauna, we returned to the room, and a weak smile crossed my face. 

"Philippa, something happened in the sauna," I said. She'd come right off the stairs, her eyes wide. 

"What happened!?" she asked. I explained the story. 

"But maybe I'm imagining things," I said. 

"You're back-pedaling!" she said. "You saw something!"

Despite this, she and Martin went to the pool and I went to the upstairs bathroom and shut the door to change. I started to feel the fullness in the room again, and trying to convince myself to calm down, looked at my reflection and faked a smile.

"It's nothing," I said to the mirror. 

The next morning a storm crossed Montauk on our last day. The four of us took our last shuttle ride to the train. The station platform was packed all the way down to the parking lot. We were luckily enough to get seats, Philippa and I talked about Noam Chomsky across the aisle. We realized halfway through the ride that we left all our rosé and rum in the hotel room fridge.

We rolled through Long Island for three hours, and for most of it I considered the night before. Hypothetically, if ghosts were real in the traditional sense of what we know, I considered how lonely that would be. How sad and isolating to be apart from human experience in such a concrete way. It didn't seem that far from my own life experience, which strangely made me feel more comforted, rather than afraid, by what happened. That night I still slept with the light on.


On Tuesday, I returned back to life, to work. My colleague asked about the hotel, I'd told her before I left that it was supposedly haunted. She is a horror film fan, and gleefully awaited my news, if any. I told her the story about the sauna. 

"I think," she said, offering her theory on ghosts, "that it's like an energy trapped in a space. It's just like a record playing on repeat." 

I liked that explanation best of all those I'd heard. It took a lot of distance from Montauk, and a few times catching myself being envious of the people I saw there, to make the connection: if I keep dwelling on the pitfalls of the past, they will continue to play for me, to haunt me. I need to change the way I think. 

My First Protest (The Women's March in D.C.)

On January 20, I find myself in a hotel lobby in Silver Springs, Maryland. About thirty teenagers in prom dresses and shirts with ties are on the couches in the lobby. You barely hear over the chatter. It's already midnight. 

The hotel attendant gives Edward and I our keys and warm cookies (it's their thing) and we get into an elevator, with more of the formally-dressed high schoolers. On our floor there are more kids on carpet having conversations so involved they don't notice when we step over them.

There's a woman with a clipboard doing bed checks through an open door. I tell Edward that they were probably an Inauguration Band. 

"Well, we're definitely not getting any sleep tonight." 

I'm exhausted. I had a full day of work, I got on The Path Train, I met Kel in New Jersey and we drove six hours to be in Washington, D.C. for the Women's March. It was all a fluke, really. Kel called Wednesday night with an excited urgency I'd never heard from her: 

"I was raised to do what I am told and put my head down. But with everything that has gone on, I said, 'You know what? I need to do this.'"

So here we are, in D.C. with only three days notice. I open the window shade to a main street. I tell Edward that I haven't been to D.C. since 2009, and start into my favorite story about taking the Amtrak alone, writing the whole ride, alighting at Union Station and getting a cab and feeling so independent. I tell him about seeing the monuments from a tour trolley in the freezing cold ("It was April, it was supposed to be warm, it was the Cherry Blossom Festival") and seeing The White House where there was a protest. Then the famous punchline -- it was an anti-circumcision protest. 

"I've never protested before," I keep saying. I'm scared but manage to sleep.

Edward and I set alarms for 6 am, we have to meet Kel and the girls at 7:15 am sharp. 

The alarm goes off the next morning and my eyes feel...sore. I put on a pair of jeans and tennis shoes, I hide my purse in my larger overnight bag and only tie the essentials to my chest in an old passport pouch. We go to breakfast buffet. A woman looks over at Edward's pink sweater. 

"I hope a lot of people show up. He's wearing pink, but maybe I'm reading too much into it." 

All is quiet in Silver Lake, Maryland, at 7 am until Edward and I make it to the station platform and we realize that everyone going to the march is there. My heavy eyelids perk up, a smile crosses my face. We're not alone, and everyone is exuberant instead of angry. Kel and company arrive in pink just in time for the train. We exit the metro near The National Mall and start walking to find coffee. 

There is an Au Bon Pain right off the march route, and it's packed. The line is wrapped around the interior three times. A barista is holding a hot vat of coffee high above the crowd. 

"Excuse me, hot coffee," he says, and places the dispenser right beside Edward and I. 

"Has it been crowded?" someone asks. 

"Yeah, but a really polite crowd, much nicer than yesterdays crowd that's for sure," he says, mentioning the inauguration crowd from the day before.

We walk back to a meeting point, where Kel's friend is gathering people from a nonprofit organization to pass out posters. There's a memorable moment on a bathroom break: the women's line is longer than the men's line (naturally) and one of the elderly woman kicks open the door and yells, "I'm coming in! We have to fight the patriarchy and the man, and just make our own way!" Other women follow-suit, and suddenly the sexes mixed in each bathroom laughing uproariously. 

I make a mental note, that I'm going to blog about that moment no matter what. 

The group starts to gather for the rally just a block or two away. Edward and I find out that if we hold hands on our walk, we get television cameras in our face. 

"We're, 'That Interracial Couple at the Women's March,'" I whisper to him with a hell of a lot of snark.


The first six hours, are the worst. A crowd forms near The National Mall around 8 am to watch the rally on a big screen. Everyone is shoulder to shoulder. That big breakfast wears off and I wonder if anyone will be able to hold it together until 1 pm, when the official march is supposed to begin. 

Around 9 am, the crowd starts screaming “Am-bu-lance. Am-bu-lance.” The first casualty. This will happen about five more times, someone at one time screaming, “Does anyone have a blood sugar checker?” About five doctors part the crowd but they are helpless without an ENT to lift the body for a man who has passed out. I look around and notice that there’s no cops in eyesight, but why would there be — there are probably cameras everywhere.

For the Rally portion of the march, several celebrities make speeches and bands play music. It would be fun but it’s not what anyone is there for, we’re there to say things, to make noise. For a long time we've watched the news, read articles, felt powerless and out of control, and this is finally the moment we get to express ourselves. We're tired of listening to people at microphones, it's our turn.

The crowd gets more and more angry as we get closer and closer to 1 pm. “When are we actually going to start marching?” someone asks. Even if it muffles the rally, a small group even starts to scream, "March! March! March!" The crowd decides that they’ve had enough. 

“Everyone turn around and start walking,” someone shouts. We’re just going to do this, and so we start off in any direction where there is room. It’s disorganized. Most of the walking paths are short lived and end on giant fields and streets that start to look like street fairs. Our group finds multiple groups to follow down the streets.

The chants are as thus: 

“Hey-hey, ho-ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” 
“We will not go away, welcome to your first day.” 
“We need a leader, not a creepy Tweeter.” “This is what democracy looks like; this is what America looks like.”
"Thank you Obama! Thank you Obama!" 

I get the feeling like I’m going to cry whenever I see a sign that I agree with, or just because some rage and disappointment floods me and because I still feel like a pawn in a very large, hard to fight game. We have work to do. This is an exasperating feeling of helplessness that I’ve felt long before the election began. 

Despite this, there is an overarching feeling of happiness, too. People find moments to dance to a jazz band that's playing, to laugh, to be polite to each other. You'd think the crowd would be showing more of their rage, but it's good we're civilized. My parents text me: "Don't go to jail." I read this to my friends and they all laugh, it seems unlikely now. 

After a few more hours of marching, we find the end of the trail. The protesters have dissipated to bars and restaurants or the nearby T station. Edward and I are taking a rental car back the same night. We have six hours of road to cover. We expect to be back in New York by midnight. 

We take a train to Silver Springs, grab dinner, pick up our bags at the hotel and took the train back to the airport to get a rental car. A heavy fog settles over D.C. as we exit. 

"Ah, all the monuments look so beautiful glowing in the dark," I say to Edward. 

We sing oldies songs on the way home and stop at a rest stop in Delaware, stretching our legs beside buses of admirable women in pink gear.

Even though I'm inspired by being surrounded by like-minded people in a safe forum, I also feel discouraged, lazy, and anxious. Sure, we'd had a success that day. But we couldn't all party and rejoice without keeping the momentum going for the many months or years that we would need to. Showing up was only 1/4 of the battle.

Edward and I make it to New York around 2 am. My feet hurt, my lower back sore and I'm losing my voice (a seasoned protester was trying to tell me to preserve it, but I was such a newbie). When I close my eyes to sleep, I think about our rental car headlights on the highway and feel the movement of the car. Roads to cover, hours to drive, unfinished, urgent business. Work to be done. 

I Was There When

So often, it happened like this: my mother, once outside the car opens the driver side door, letting the interior lights (one on the ceiling, two on the floor) turn on. She sits in the driver seat, rears back the wrist and shoulder of her right arm to fasten a seatbelt with her left. Then she hunches over the wheel, turning to me, shivering. 

"It's windy out there," she says, or "not fit for man nor beast."

This was not a regular weather pattern, but the wind coming off a hurricane churning in the gulf. You could feel the winds three days before landfall, a reminder of the things that were to come. 

I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, a city on the Gulf Coast. Before moving to New York, I lived through at least nine notable storms (including Hurricane Katrina). A hurricane gave the city a sort of focus. Small talk disappeared. Everyone could only talk of one thing:

"I heard Lowe's was having a sale on wood if you need to board your windows..."

"My cousin in Birmingham told me I could come up and stay with her."

"They say it might be category four..."

Though we had our bills, our sadness, our to-dos, they were filtered through the worries of an upcoming storm. It was as if the city were operating together as a unit, that we were of one mind. I can't describe it better than that.

On November 8th at 6 pm, I exited the subway at 42nd Street and felt this focus for the first time since I left Mobile. Crowds of people were speed walking west toward the Javits Center where Hillary Clinton was hosting her Election Night Party. I didn't know the numbers -- how many tickets had been given out, how many crowds were due to show up, but I thought I'd try my luck. I'd spent an hour on Sunday standing in line at her Manhattan headquarters just to pick up at ticket. I'd come too far to go home and watch it from the sofa.

The crowds were bottlenecked into a barricaded area that ran up to the back entrance of the Javits Center. For at least an avenue block behind me, all you could see were hundred of heads and people taking photos. We were a civilized, but complaining crowd. I was all alone, promising to meet up with my sister as soon as she could get to midtown. After an hour of shuffling and stopping, and a brief security check, a woman directed me to Eleventh Avenue in front of the building for the "Street Party." A jumbo-sized TV ran Clinton campaign videos and switched between the news networks. There were a few food trucks, people were complained that there wasn't any booze, and everyone wanted to be inside. A volunteer told us that no one was going inside. 

I was united with two friends from my trip to Rhode Island. A volunteer passed out American flags. Whenever Hillary won a state the crowd would cheer, and whenever Trump won one we would all boo. 

A small stage was set up on the street and the mayor, the governor and even Katy Perry spoke, among others. Trump began winning many states. People started sitting on the asphalt. By 11 pm, friends at home were texting me. If the world held it's focus on the election, then I was standing in the eye of the storm. 

"What are people saying?"

"Morale is low," I wrote. 

I overheard a cameraman saying to his producer, "We need more shots of worried faces." 

I looked to my left and right. Everyone including myself, had their jaws open, bitting their nails, near to tears, groaning, texting, calling friends, pacing. Someone even started to smoke a blunt, the smell wafting over the crowd. People stopped waving their flags.

By midnight, and without full results, me and my friends decided to go home. We joined the crowds back to Tenth Avenue and eventually reached 42nd Street. I said goodbye to them, and waited on the corner to hail a cab. Three Trump supporters from his Hilton Hotel party had made their way down 42nd Street. They were drunk. 

One of the men ran the back of his hand along my shoulder and giggled. 

"Sorry, darlin', I had to switch sides," he said. Then he burst out laughing and so did his three friends, they were all wearing "Make America Great Again" hats. 

"I mean, this is the best part," said one of the men, he stood next to me, so that we were nearly shoulder to shoulder. He held up a stack of about 50 Trump bumper stickers in bright red. 

The signal changed, and they could cross the street. 

"Have a good night," they said politely and continued down the street. A cab pulled up just then, and the driver saw my two American flags. One had broken into pieces. I'd forgotten to throw it away.

"So, what is happening down there?" the driver said. He was wearing a skull cap, he had a long but plump baby face. He turned in his seat to look at me through the glass partition in the cab. This wasn't small talk -- he really needed to know. I swallowed, was I really going to have to break it to this stranger?! This man with eyes so big and wide, it was like telling your child some very bad news. How do you do it?

"It..." I said, "it doesn't look so good." 

He nodded. "OK," he said. "OK." Then he turned in his seat, put the car into gear and we went up the West Side Highway and eventually home. I recall the small amount of money I gave to the Clinton campaign and while shaking my head, tears welling up, say to myself: "I would have given it a million times if I could have." 

I got into bed and remembered a conversation I'd had over the summer. I was working with a strategy and branding expert, and she was scrolling through this blog. 

"What is the purpose of this?" she asked. 

"I write about my life, I tell stories and vignettes," I said.

"But...why?" she asked. 

I could see the answer in my mind, but couldn't verbalize it well. My own reasons had been so self evident that it wasn't even a word -- but a feeling, an attraction. The night of the election I was able to verbalize these feelings, because I recognized the conditions from which they come.

I write because I live (and have lived) the majority of my life in sadness. There are times when everyday life is very, very hard. But the past is the only thing I know for sure. When the status quo is too overwhelming and unbearable, that is when writing has it's value. I can reach back into happy and sad experiences to keep myself moving. To escape. 

This is what art is for.

I woke up at intervals during the night to check the news. My Facebook feed fell into chaos.

"No one really cares what I have to say," I said to myself as I drafted status updates and posts and deleted them. I knew I wanted to write about that night, and I knew it wouldn't be an all-encompassing post that did anything of worth. Even with the distance from it, I could never write it right and catch it all besides saying: "I was there that night." 

But that does nothing. 

Shelter Island

A year ago, "Harry" brushed past a cactus on a hike. It was one of those cactuses that loses limbs for protection and fell into his left hand, the spikes digging into his skin. Little scars now run up the knuckles where a doctor removed each spike in the ER. I watched this same hand guide the helm of his boat, The Montauk. His heel of his right hand he used to accelerate the motor. 

"This whole bay is so shallow," he said as we turned from an inlet into a larger bay. He'd gone there the weekend before to water ski. Now, just a week or two into September, it was already too cold too swim, too hot for a jacket. A beautiful Friday regardless. I looked at the time, nearly 3 o'clock. If I hadn't taken the day off to escape to The Hamptons with Harry, I would be in the office. To think everything had started with a pineapple.

On our first date on Labor Day, Harry showed up to a bar with a pineapple instead of flowers.

"I couldn't find any flowers," he said. "so I texted my friends to see if a pineapple was a good idea. They were like, 'abort, abort.'" The date went well, the pineapple came home with me in a taxi, cradled like a baby. The next day the whole apartment smelled sweet. The following weekend we watched a film and celebrated my birthday on his parents rooftop in the East Village. He grilled salmon, I made us gin fizz's. After giving me a gift, he played Fred Astaire on his laptop.

"It took me all day to find a song for us to dance to," he said. So we laughed our way through a dance. We'd gotten along famously enough to plan a trip to his parents Hamptons house for a weekend. A week later my friend Patrick pushed a copy of Max Frisch's "Montauk" across the table to me at Cafe Grumpy. I read it in less than week, totally engrossed in the plot that would soon be my reality -- a writer taking a new romantic interest to The Hamptons.

On the evening of the 22nd, Harry and I boarded a Hampton Jitney and arrived to the ferry to Shelter Island a little before ten. I remember the unpleasant chug-chug of the ferry slowing as we pulled into the dock. I remember looking at the other side of the ferry and sighing.

"This, Ariel Davis, is the craziest thing you've ever done." Maybe I'd reached my limit, maybe I'd done something too crazy. I think of my idol, George Sands, who whisked Frederick Chopin to Majorca. I think of Max Frisch. Maybe this is just the great literary tradition.

Harry put a hand on my shoulder. 

"Made it."

A cab took us to his house, a beautiful, wooden two story place surrounded by green grass and trees and nestled so far from the street it was entirely private. I was instantly envious. Harry gave me the tour: a living room and dining room with a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows to the porch. Up the stairs, two bedrooms, ours the small one with twin beds, high ceilings and a large green plant. In the backyard, a grill and a farm. I had a glass of wine and Harry had a glass of whiskey. I taught him how to fry an egg without it burning, and we had it as our dinner.

We were up by 10 am the next morning. Harry gave me a primer on the espresso machine, so I made us both lattes. He was out in the backyard tinkering with the Vespa.

"Hey, can you come out here?" he asked. He'd just hung up the phone, he'd been talking through the repairs with his father. "I have a feeling you're lucky."

He pointed at the ignition on the right side. I tried turning the keys and the engine started to sputter, without gaining the expected hum.

"This thing!" Harry said, defeated. "We can ride bikes to breakfast."

"Bike?" I said. "I haven't ridden a bike since I was in Paris."

"When was that?"


"You'll be great at it," he said.

"Are there a lot of cars?"

"These are back roads," he said.

Back roads. One-laned roads and a traffic circle. A little residential street that passes the elementary school and the library. There was supposedly a bike path, but we never found it. We parked our bikes (without locks) at the local diner. My hands shook from the ride, I was so nervous.

"Look at that," I said, and pointed to the tremor. Harry gasped and took my hand across the table, which reminded me of what a gentleman he'd been since the trip began. We'd slept in twin beds, and he grew upset when he caught me washing dishes. There was a spider hanging over the toilet in the bathroom (Me: "There's a large, vicious spider in there!" Him: "That little guy?"). He put it in a mug, and discretely released it on the front lawn.

Harry is an environmental lawyer by trade, but spends all his time hiking and climbing mountains. Biking in the streets was easier for him than it was for me. He was always biking in cities. He joked often that he was "a caveman" even on our first date -- he was worried about his table manners. He's a pragmatist. He never wears matching socks because matching socks is a waste of time. If he can turn something into a sport or a competition, he will.

He taught me to play penny soccer until our breakfast arrived. I won.

We climbed on our bikes for a short ride to the pier. Though I was frightened by the speed of the hills, the cars rushing past, the branches in the streets, I think a bike ride is the best way to see Shelter Island. We got lost in a neighborhood of only old houses and a very old church. We stopped riding so Harry could consult the map.

I began to feel a strange, dull pain in my neck, blood rushing to the area. I'd been stung by a bee in the same spot I was stung when I was seven. When I was seven I cried and made a phone call from school to my mom. The school nurse opened a paper towel to show me the stinger. She'd found the bee laying on my shirt collar.

"You must have squished him," the nurse said. She didn't know, like I did, that all bees die after they sting someone. I still don't understand the biological need for them to die after defending themselves. Growing up, I erroneously translated this into a lesson: don't fight until you die fighting. Give up.

Now, at 32, I can be stung by a bee and not notice it.

"Harry, is there something in my neck?" I asked him. He, being six foot three, loomed over me, leaning down.

"There's something," he said. I took my fingers and pinched the spot, putting pressure on it and dragging my hand downward, like I've seen people do in the bee documentaries.

"I think a bee stung me," I said.

"We're going to the hospital," Harry said. "get you some cortisone."

"I'll be fine, I..." I started laughing. "I hardly felt it." ("I've grown up.")

We continued on. We would need to cross the island to make it to the pier. My neck only hurt when I turned it to the right, then it stopped hurting at all.



The closer we got to the pier, the more beautiful the ride became. We saw the water between the trees; the sun bouncing off of it. We parked our bikes against a garage and raced down to the boat. Harry asked me to be the Skipper.

We began to navigate the waters. Harry at one point revved up the motor and we bounced along the waves.

"This is too fast!"

"That was nothing!" he laughed. "You have to hit the waves head on."

We found an empty body of water, there was only a massive yacht bearing Australian flags beside us. Harry cut the engine and we layed down with our legs up, talking about life.

On the way back to shore I waved at the boats we passed and he let me drive her for a bit. We made it back to the pier, back to our bikes, back to the streets. At the house, the sun had drained our energy. Harry was insistent that we watch an episode of my favorite show, "Poirot."

"You'll fall asleep," I warned him. Twenty minutes in, and he was out. Talk about idyllic! Harry was still holding my hands as he slept, his chest rising and falling, his eyelids fluttering from a dream. I could see out the front windows. A doe wandered on the property; it's mother not far off. Harry shifted.

"How long was I sleeping?" he asked.

"Not long," I said. He yawned and decided to take the bike to the market to get us dinner before sundown. He returned with a salmon steak, greens, an avocado and bread. We stood side by side at the counter top chopping vegetables while listening to jazz.

"Hanging out with you us just so easy," Harry said before a very romantic toast.

"I agree," I said. We took the salmon and mixed it with onions and a variety of spices and mayonnaise then grilled them like burgers. Harry whisked Dijon and lemon and olive oil into dressing.

"I'll cry if I have to watch you eat cold food," he said, looking over at my salmon burger patty resting on the counter while his simmered on the grill. 

"You're spoiling me," I said.

We turned off all the lights and lit the candelabra in the dining room. My phone rang. My mom. I told Harry I'd tell her where I was when I was back in New York.

After dinner we decided to watch a movie. I'd never seen "No Country for Old Men" and Harry wanted to see it again. With all the violence, I was most offended by the scene where the sheriff notices a bottle of "sweatin' milk" on a coffee table as a sign that their culprit has just left the house, I jumped up out of my seat. The sheriff pours himself a glass.

"You can't drink that!" I shrieked at the TV. "That milk is sweatin'!"

Harry laughed and squeezed my shoulder. I blushed. "You know how I am about expiration dates."

We went to bed around midnight and woke around 10 am. If we had gone to bed in summer, we woke up in fall. It was so chilly we wore jackets and sweats and shivered on the ferry ride back. The bus ride home was three hours, and we held hands for most of it. At Grand Central he was to take his train and I had to take mine. He gave my hand three sharp squeezes before running down the subway stair.

In two weeks he'd be in Hawaii. In two more weeks, still traveling the world, destination unknown. I felt a sort of sadness, not only about his departure but about my life. I was staring down my nose into the next few years, and there was nothing to see, nothing to look forward to. Not one hope nor milestone. Madame George Sands wouldn't have cared, perhaps? But I'll never be her.