The Weeklies: June 30 - July 6
Last week began with a bus crash. So much has happened since then that the bus crash feels like an afterthought, even though my shoulder hurt for a few hours after. It took three extra days to write this post -- which felt a little like climbing through a thicket.
The bus incident was sandwiched between two boring days and the beginning of a holiday weekend. Everything after it was a big, busy blur.
When you're in your twenties in New York, there's a circuit of places you go to in East Village. When I was living here in 2009-2010 we had unlimited mimosas with french toast at the sunny second floor of Essex Restaurant; we danced for hours at Fat Baby. I had so many first dates at the bar of The Ten Bells (always the trio of cheeses and raw oysters). Most evenings ended dragging a new person down dark, dodgy alley to The Back Room for a cocktail in a teacup with too much ice. Last Wednesday, I found myself back in the loop.
I got off work early on Wednesday and raced home to drop my work things and assess my outfit: I was in a midi-length white linen skirt and sweater, I felt old and unattractive. I knew we were going to Beauty & Essex after The Ten Bells -- not an appropriate place to be dressed for a tea party. I tried to listen to all the trite advice about "being yourself" and left the house in that outfit. As I descended the stairs in front of my building a man laughed. "Stay beautiful," he said. "Respect.
I arrived late and very nervous. There were three girls in total -- one I know well and two I only met recently. If you increase the people I'm spending time with from two to three, something happens to me. I spend most of the time in my head, the dynamic is such that I watch conversation like a ping pong ball. I focus on the wall or adjacent tables to calm my mind. When someone asks me a question my face always flushes red.
We ordered two dozens oysters and two carafes of red wine which disappeared quickly. Then we walked to Beauty & Essex. This place has been open as long as I've been in New York. You can't miss the entrance, it's lit in big theater-like bright lights, and dressed to look like a pawn shop. The space is impressive but also dark and brooding. We got a banquette, ordered a bunch of dishes and talked through a bottle of white wine.
Looking around the dining room made me feel old. Girls were wearing skirts so short they couldn't bend over and their shoulders were exposed. We walked to The Back Room, a speakeasy with Victorian decor and a VIP room hidden in a bookcase. I used to take dates here, too, but it always led to being ghosted. Maybe from my smug reveal: "Ah, you'll never guess this is a bar!" then as the swinging door led them to the cozy parlor room, "Isn't this wonderful?" or my boring innocence (which bordered on iciness).
We took a couch next to two life-size nude paintings. Inside my head I said: My cocktail is too strong and my dress is too long. I'm older but not old yet. I have fewer years left to make mistakes. I am expected to be stable for the rest of my boring life.These thoughts made me sad. This feeling would reappear later in the week.
I woke up on the Fourth of July with a mild hangover. Alistair and I had no plans, so we took a long walk to lunch and binge watched episodes of "Love Island." On Friday I told Alistair I needed to pick up something from McNally Jackson. I bought a copy of George Sand's "Indiana."
My leisurely days turned busy on Saturday and Sunday. My cousin and her sixteen-year-old son are in town for three weeks. He is here on scholarship with one of the summer dance intensives, so we spent Saturday touring the city and Sunday getting him settled into his dorm. When I took the elevator up it was filled with dancers from the other programs. I used to beg to do summer dance programs when I was younger but wasn't allowed. I watched them with a forlorn jealousy. I wondered if they realized what they had.
I walked my cousins through Lincoln Center and loved seeing their faces when the fountain put on its show. We had lunch at The Smith and I tried to be the "cool older cousin" that he could trust and talk about dance with, but my jokes fell flat. I would never be the "cool older cousin" and only be the "other adult" in the room.
My day ended in Flatbush so I took a short ride in a car home. I could not make peace with anything, so I said: "Lets just keep things going as they are. Let's not think too much." Easier said than done.