The Weeklies: May 5 - May 11
On Sunday, May 5, I woke up early, hungover. I put on my rain boots -- it was pouring, gray and slightly chilly -- and walked north to Ft. Greene for brunch.
I listened to music on my walk, which helped my tired legs keep up a pace. I paused to dodge puddles, wet leaves, dog poop, and hanging branches.
It's impossible to ignore how different New York and my hometown, Mobile, Alabama, are. In Mobile, if I were to meet a friend for lunch I'd be in the car for passing big oak trees and green parks. You'd never see this many people walking. And the weather! We never had long stretches of in-between. In March, we'd have 21 perfect days, then quickly descend into summer. Summer would end on Thanksgiving day.
I turned a corner and entered Colonia Verde. The front section of the restaurant -- a narrow room leading to a covered terrace -- was empty. I was put in a high booth seat with a leather cushion. My friend arrived at 11 o'clock. We took the time to catch up and talk about our summer travels. I knew, as I know every May, summer will start and end in a flash. If you don't nail down the holidays, hold tight to the warm evenings and baton down the sunny afternoons, you'll lose it all in an August windstorm. I'm never as strategic as I would like. Some summer Fridays (the New York tradition of getting a few Friday's off every summer without penalty to your accruing PTO) pass by and all I do is binge watch TV. Every May I scroll past the weeks on my calendar saying things like: Bermuda, Montreal, New Orleans. It never happens.
I had writing group on Monday. My usual after-work pit stop at Argo Tea and writing group. Beyond that, the week was fast and busy. Alistair and I nearly hit a record of cooking a meal almost every night last week: chicken Basquaise with rice; butternut squash ravioli with a burrata, prosciutto and arugula salad; toasted sourdough bread with goat cheese and olive oil; roast salmon with sautéed zucchini (and as always, I peeled the oily skin from the pan and ate it with my fingers) . After dinner together we sat side by side on the couch making the rest of our reservations for our trip to Normandy and Paris in less than a month.
On Friday after work I joined Alistair and his colleagues at a networking event. It was my first time ever attending a networking event, and since I was invited last minute I didn't have time to be nervous. The event was hosted at a bar near Times Square where a back section was reserved just for guests. I liked that just adding the word "networking" to any event meant that it was encouraged to walk up to strangers and shake their hand. I decided against drinking and balanced a tall water goblet in one hand and my backpack in another. The worst part was the moments spent floundering in the crowd, especially when I was done chatting with one person and was looking around for someone else to introduce myself to. The second worst moment: the times when someone would look at my name tag, decide I wasn't worth their time, and move on.
Saturday morning my alarm went off at 7 am and travelled to Harlem for a hair appointment. I was nervous. Now that natural hair is encouraged and mostly accepted in the black community (which is very, very good), I felt sheepish going for a relaxer. When I left the salon at 11 am I met Alistair in midtown again for lunch. The weather was beautiful. People were spending so much time in the sun that many of the noses and arms and foreheads were sunburnt. Even though speed walking past tourists in midtown is a pain, I love them. I love them because I was them once. So many summers I stopped on sidewalks to take photos and look up. I noticed on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street that my favorite cheesy, touristy restaurant had closed and become a seafood joint. It made me sad.
We walked all the way from midtown to Flatiron and separated. I went home to write, he went to the gym. Instead of writing I sat in the window and watched people go by. By the time he was back, I had to change for dinner out.
Alistair's high school friends get together a couple of times a year. He attended school in Switzerland, so all his friends picked a Swiss restaurant named Mont Blanc (and yes, you're right, Mont Blanc is in France, but whatever). Alistair's friends are a lively bunch. We took a long table at the back of the restaurant and ordered a ton of cheese fondues and a couple raclettes. I had far too much Swiss wine.
Everyone wanted to stay out for another drink but we declined. I got home at midnight and dreamed of dinner parties and taxi drives. I slept late.