Sunday afternoon I jumped on a Google hangout call with Suni and Philippa. These days, as I go through several life-changes, they feel like friends and co-conspirators. I took their well wishes and support and carried it with me all week long. I had to hang up after a few hours but I could have talked all evening long.
I headed to Brooklyn to have dinner with Alistair's family (the same group that I spent Thanksgiving with). It was lovely to end the weekend this way. On Monday, the holidays were officially over. School children returned to school and their parents returned to their early morning commutes. The trains were crowded again.
On Tuesday Alistair suggested we meet up for a drink after work. I took the 1 train to West Village and alighted on Christopher Street. The pace on the street was quick, the middle of rush hour. I stepped lively toward Sixth Avenue and looked up at a familiar face. A guy I used to date, a consistently well-dressed man who had a hazelnut Vizsla. I looked down at the sidewalk, and he looked straight ahead. I felt my heart racing nervously.
I slipped into Goods for the Study. I love paper and pen stores. In Paris I spent almost an hour at Delphonics, my favorite Japanese paper store. I had decided earlier on Tuesday that a trip to the paper store would a treat. As a child I wrote voraciously and as an adult stacks of notebooks fill the living room. A paper store makes me connect to my core self in a nostalgic way. I circled the floor taking note of the paper stock; running my hand on the leather covers. I bought a spiral black notebook made in Japan.
I walked from there to Corkbuzz, a little wine bar and restaurant Alistair took me to on New Years Day. It's so relaxed and quiet and the staff is nice. We ordered a flight of wine and whipped ricotta. I felt less stressed in an instant.
Alistair and I decided we'd do something cultural on Friday night. I picked the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and dinner at a place I'd never heard of before: Shalel Lounge.
The MOMA will forever remind me of my first years in New York. (There was that one time I circulated the galleries alone for hours with a squished fly on my face. A guard came up to me, "Are you OK?" he asked. It wasn't till I looked in the mirror of a bathroom that I realized it was there.) Friday nights at the MOMA are free, so Alistair and I expected a crowd. The line for coat check reminded me of a JFK airport security line. The Charles White exhibit, which we actually didn't know was on, was worse. I felt like I was always fighting just to get a view of something, only to finally get my view blocked by someone else.
We decided to take the B train uptown to dinner. We raced to catch the arriving train. I put my metro card in the wrong pocket, and when I reached into my pocket to get my phone the Metrocard flew onto the tracks. It was annual Metrocard, one that refilled without me doing a thing. I sighed and looked down at it from afar.
"Should we call someone?" Alistair asked as the train barreled into the station.
I could have called a station attendant to pick up the card. I could have waited for another train. I just shrugged and told him to forget it. We got on the train and headed uptown. The card was the least important thing on my mind. The camel's back was carrying a full load.
In the west 70s Alistair and I descended a nondescript set of stairs into Shalel Lounge, a Moroccan restaurant. I pointed to the rose petals on the stairs and told Alistair that it was considered "extremely romantic" restaurants in the city. We had Negroni's at the lounge and then our waitress pointed to our table down a narrow hall.
"It's that table all the way back there," she said. Alistair and I exchanged a glance. The table was the only one at the end of a brick hall. It was like having our own little restaurant.
"This is truly candlelit dinner," exclaimed Alistair.
There was a table around the corner, and though we were far we could hear their conversation. Four women in their 50s, swingers, discussing their escapades. Alistair and I exchanged wide-eyed glances while we dug into our tagines.
Alistair and I spoke wistfully about our wish to go to Morocco. Even if our talks were about far-away possibilities, it just felt nice to imagine myself anywhere with Alistair.