It was a week where everything happened, I had to write an outline just to make sure I got it all. But in short: yes, it was quite good.
It started Sunday. Ideally, I hoped to rest on Sunday but sprinted from one event to the next closely minding the time. Around two-something I slipped on a coat and walked a few blocks from Alistair's place to Relationships Coffee. It was on of those built-for-the-insta coffee shops: millennial pink, lifeless baristas in beanies and minimalist skincare products up for sale. I got an almond latte and perched myself on a stool int he window, and waited.
About a year ago I joined a networking app, Shapr, and since have been meeting new people from it for coffees. It's always worth it: I learn something, give some advice of my own, and often pass on a contact or two. On Sunday I agreed to meet another writer named Liz. I was nervous because I'm always nervous. My people-pleasing side wants to give them all the information they need. I go through the same mental anguish that I used to have on first dates: am I likable?
Liz approached smiling big, and was so open and friendly. She'd only been in town three weeks but had hit the ground running with some freelance gigs. I saw two friends walking by on the street. Both came in to say hello.
"It's kind of funny," I told her. "I never run into people I know."
Around 4 pm I left coffee and met Alistair. We had plans to go to Bemelman's Bar, the most magical bar in all of New York. I've only gone twice prior: once on a first date and once last year to introduce it to Philippa.
"It's just like being back in time!" she said when she saw it. I wanted to take Alistair for our anniversary. It would be the perfect cozy, romantic place. We took the train uptown and arrived around 6 pm. There was a long line waiting. Two older women arrived and shrugged.
"It's never like this!" they said. I agreed. I'd never had to wait. Finally we were seated in a booth facing the pianist. We ordered two Negroni's and snuggled up close. Afterwards we took the train to the Japanese market in East Village to buy sukiyaki ingredients. After paying for our food at the market, the cashier handed me the receipt with both hands, bowing slightly. As I took it from him, I did the same. A short cab ride back to his apartment and dinner was on the table by 8 pm.
We weren't expecting much from our homemade sukiyaki. This was our first time trying out the dish and we were going off of an online recipe--but it was amazing. The broth was salty and rich, we filled the pot with thinly sliced meat, tofu, cabbage and mushrooms. We ate so much we leaned back in our seats rubbing our bellies.
On Monday, I couldn't stop thinking about my first week in New York. It was 2007, and my parents were helping me settle in. Within my first two days there had already been snow, and the light wool coat I'd brought from Mobile wasn't enough. On the morning of our third day we took the M15 bus down to Macy's. A kind salesperson took us to a North Face section and told us that they were the best winter coats for the money. We looked around the store and noticed that every New York woman was donning one.
"But we're out of size small," the woman said. The medium swallowed me, but my parents shrugged.
"More room for sweaters," they said.
"Can we come back when they have my size?" I protested.
"We're not leaving till you buy a winter coat," my mom said.
I wore that black North Face coat for 11 years. The sleeves started to fray, my iron burnt a spot in the front but it was nearly unnoticeable. Last winter I realized that I had changed. The coat didn't suit the style that I had grown in to. After work on Monday I took the subway to Soho. Night had fallen, and in the late evening Soho tucked itself in. The tourists went into restaurants, the stores emptied and the windows darkened. I went to the Everlane pop-up on Wooster and bought the first coat I tried on in navy blue. Later that night I tried to rationalize my decision with my mother over the phone.
"It was a little frayed. It was a little old," I said about my previous coat.
"Well sometimes," she said, "you just feel like something new."
I hung the coat up next to my old one, and it felt little sad.
Wednesday morning, unexpectedly, I found myself in midtown at eight o'clock in the morning. As much as I love sleeping in, I also love early mornings in midtown. I was wearing my new coat, stepping confidently in the crowds towards my destination. I looked up at the gray sky and could smell the damp snow on it's way. My friend Felix was in town from Paris, but only available for breakfast before a conference. We'd met last year via a networking app and had drinks at the Plaza Hotel. He was also a writer, but unlike me, he had published book and he was celebrated in Paris. Our last meeting was brief, and it was so long ago that it left only a vague impression in my mind.
I opened the door to Le Pain Quotidien and Felix was sitting at the very back table, waving. We ordered coffee and pastries and miraculously, there was no small talk. He asked about my family, and I told him about the history of Mobile, my family history, what my grandparents and aunts and uncles were like, and what growing up in the south was like.
"I'm getting a little bit of American history!" he said. He told me about his family too, and in that way, he transformed from the two-dimensional person I imagined into a person with dimensions and depth--like watching a ginger bread man rising in the oven.
"Tomorrow it will snow," I said.
"What?" he asked.
"Neige," I said. I mimicked snow with my fingers.
And oh boy, did it snow. At noon on Thursday it was a dusting and by the evening it was a full blown storm. Surprisingly, my commute home was nearly two hours long. No one, including the New York City transportation department, was prepared for the six inches of snow we got.
Friday night I spent cooking dinner with Alistair and recapping everything that happened. On Saturday we didn't have plans but decided to have lunch in Dumbo, Brooklyn. I told Alistair the story about my first time in Brooklyn ever. It was in 2008, a friend suggested we walk across the bridge and walk back. Back then Dumbo was just a few restaurants and an ice cream shop, now it's built up completely, there's even a J.Crew.
Back at his apartment we cuddled on the couch with sipping chocolate and TV. I was already feeling the Sunday scaries creep up on me, but then I remembered it was a two day week. Thanksgiving was only four days away.