The Weeklies: April 28 - May 4
Thinking back, this was a week of two things: friends and weather. I had many dinners and drinks in all my favorite places, and as I commuted I pulled my jacket collar over my neck. Sure, there were brief moments of sun and warmth but I only experienced them on my ten minute lunch breaks. It rained quite often.
Tuesday night I attended a lovely work dinner with Alistair. On Friday I was itching for a midtown evening out, so I called my old-coworker-turned-friend, Sandrine, to meet for cocktails at our place: The Rotunda at The Pierre. I left the office Friday night, took the N train to Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. I peered over the stone fence into Central Park. A fog started to settle over the lake.
I got to the lobby of the Pierre but The Rotunda was full of teenagers in ball gowns: Prom. I texted Sandrine quickly and told her to move to my plan B choice, The Plaza Hotel. As I exited out the Pierre one of the prom girls was arriving in a white Bentley. There was a couple walking by.
"That's prom!" the woman said to her friend. "I didn't go to mine, did you?"
I laughed and wanted to say, "I didn't either!" But instead I crossed Fifth Avenue (passing by a gold statue, through tulips and park benches) bound for The Plaza. In my mind I was leaping toward it. I love New York for so many reasons and one of them is that it is a city of outsiders. Of course I found someone just like me, who skipped prom, who didn't care. Perhaps, who hated high school as much as I did.
I the front stairs of The Plaza Hotel and straight past an entry table and a chandelier to The Palm Court. I hadn't been there since my meeting with Felix a few years back. I remember loving that it was quiet and elegant, and believe it or not, unpretentious. Sandrine and I got a table and a round of cocktails. Later in the evening I switched to champagne and a half-dozen of raw oysters. The waitress told us it was last call and I looked at my watch. It was nearly midnight.
We waited outside the hotel for our cars and a group of stylish teenagers asked us to take their photo on the steps. They posed dramatically and offered to take our photos, which they then began to direct.
"Work it! Give me face, yasss!" they shouted. I took a car home and instead of taking FDR he drove me through the city via Park Avenue. I loved seeing groups of friends sharing cigarettes, men and women sharing kisses on the corner, all the neon lights and restaurant windows.
On Saturday we had a surprise 40th birthday party in the Flatiron and almost immediately after, a big group dinner. We had forty-five minutes in between to waste time, so we went to the lobby of the Gramercy Park hotel to sit by the fireplace. Instagram's "memories" feature reminded me that on that same day in 2013 I'd been at the Gramercy Park Hotel. The events of that night became one of my favorite dating stories: an over-the-top man interrupted my date and offered me a car as a gift. Only in New York.
We went for dinner down the street at a Lebanese spot called Almayass. The layout of the restaurant is uniquely long and bright. In the back there were lots of tables of large groups celebrating birthdays and otherwise. Alistair's friends from Hong Kong were in town so we got a table for seven and a bunch of sharable dishes. You could make a game out of trying to guess the connections between the people at each table. A bread basket caught on fire twenty minutes after a birthday girl blew out candles on a cake. We talked about summer travel, embarrassing moments. When the tables around us paid the bills and the dining room quieted down, our conversation devolved to the 2020 election as all New York conversations do. The anxiety hanging.
Alistair and I took a car home and the same path home as the night before. Our driver pointed to a group of teens outside of Max Brenner.
"Prom is coming," he said ominously.
"It's such a coincidence that you said that..." I said and told him the story from The Pierre.
I fell in to bed feeling grateful for things to do. I set an alarm for my late-morning brunch.