In the window of a restaurant, over biscuits and fresh-fruit mimosas, I slumped over the table sheepishly and divulged a secret to Philippa. I watched her mimic my posture (I always crouch when I'm guarding myself) and she whispered, a devilish look in her eyes. I love secrets. Especially my own secrets, which make me feel powerful and, that in a chaotic world, I have some sense of control. My secret is nearly absurd, but it was enough to keep us laughing over brunch. We went next door to share a pitcher of Sangria and I realized -- oh how I miss talking one-on-one with other women! I had been very lonely the past few weeks.
I walked west to the train and my Sunday scaries followed closely behind me. On Monday anxiety about the week deepened: I would have to budget wisely till pay day, so I went to the grocery, bought the necessities. Back at the apartment I tried to write but my ideas were terrible. I feel like my creative momentum was shot, and I woke up Tuesday severely cross. So severely, that I wondered if it was a side effect from medicine or what? That night I tried to sleep but was awake from three o'clock to six o'clock in the morning.
On Wednesday, Alistair planned date night: karaoke for an hour (just us two), then a talk at NYU with dinner after. He'd been away all weekend so it was great to catch up in the middle of the week. Karaoke cheered me up, the talk made me laugh. We had pho for dinner and it was, no joke, the best pho I've ever had.
On Friday we had a holiday dinner party to attend. "Fancy dress" read the invitation. I put on a floral cocktail dress and Alistair wore a tuxedo jacket. That evening I went into a wine store on the Upper West Side and and opened the refrigerator.
"What can I help you with?" a woman asked. I told her I wanted a dry champagne, or the like, and she handed me an ornate bottle of Segura Viudas cava. "You'll be coming back for this, I assure you," she said confidently.
"I trust you," I said and brought the bottle to the register. Coincidentally, the radio was playing a song that also appears on the soundtrack of my favorite film, "You've Got Mail." As a teen all I did was watch "You've Got Mail" over and over on cable TV. The entire film takes place on the Upper West Side, and the wine store happened to be a block from one of the filming locations, Cafe Lalo. I smiled to myself as I walked slowly down the street. It was really nothing at all, just a something that reminded me of something that reminded me of something else -- and the sum of those things, made me feel good on my walk in the rain.
Essentially, the cava was a hit at the party. We were served curried lentils and rice, with baked cod and for dessert chocolate gateau with berries and ice cream. All the guests spoke French fluently except me, I struggled to keep up and awkwardly laughed when everyone else laughed but was unsure what the jokes were about.
On Saturday afternoon I went to Times Square to meet Alistair and go shopping. That evening it began to rain again so we stayed in and watched one of the "Mission Impossible" films, and in the evening had dinner at an Italian restaurant in his neighborhood. We got cozy at the bar, chatted with the other patrons. We were served Aperol spritzes with rosemary sprigs, which made us both fondly remember Varenna. One more week left of work before I’m off for the holidays.