By the Hours, October 5, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
18:00 On the Upper East Side I walked briskly down the street with a bottle of Rioja tucked under my arm. I was bound for a party in Washington Heights. My writing-group pal and I crossed through Central Park. Our gait short, and fast, like soldiers. I did not trust the park at night.
18:30 In Washington Heights we rang a doorbell and I held my breath, expecting a wild scene on the other side. But we were the second guests to have arrived, which is good for someone like me who’s normally nervous in those situations. The hostess and birthday girl led us to the kitchen, where various pots of spaghetti were simmering and Sangria was prepared. She apologized profusely for having a lack of sleep and a silly demeanor, but the food was delicious, the company charming, funny, insightful.
02:00 The guests from my writing group and I jogged down the subway steps to the platform. I stood, arms outstretched, happy the evening had been a social success (I’m used to so many failures) and said: “I feel like I’m in a ‘coming-of-age’ movie!”
Saturday, October 5, 2013
13:15 Brunch at The Standard, but my friend is 30 minutes late, so I occupied myself with enjoying the space. The front part of the restaurant is bright and airy, the pre-autumn sun coming in through the windows. The tables are round and brown, and the walls are white. My friend, in pink, stops short of the table to touch my arm, and to say my name with a British accent (that I become fond of hearing). I go with pancakes but it is a mistake, as was declining the orange juice.
15:30 Thirty minutes are spent pushing through Times Square. Many New Yorkers swear off the place because the tourists are slow, but I’m not an average Manhattanite. I like to see the tourists enjoying the city the same way I do, I love seeing their heads up, mouths open, cameras flashing. I like seeing the families making memories as mine did on those blocks.
16:00 I land at Café Bene for my French lesson. (It’s been months since I’d returned to that spot, the time before was a date with a Navy man who had a stereotypical anchor tattoo like Popeye.) I sit upstairs with my teacher and we discuss life en Francais, without even opening a textbook or referencing an exercise; the best way to learn.
17:30 I’ve got a ticket to the ballet solely to see the new Angelin Preljocaj premiere. I saw one of his works the first year I moved to New York, and felt so transported by it that I sought out all of his ballets. I arrived to the theater as the sun was setting and took my seat in the Third Ring. The first year I lived in New York I went to the ballet once a week, I lived on cast changes, and curtain times. I thought the routine was sublime, I always left the theater and had a meal at P.J. Clarke’s. I knew where I liked to spend my intermissions. That seems like a long time ago. The Preljocaj was exactly what I wanted. I watched so enraptured that I had leaned forward in my seat. I was expectant. And I was pleased.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
15:00 My first visit to the Brooklyn Museum. As my friend warned, it’s definitely not as crowded as the MET, but worth a stop. Most profound was Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” depicting a fictional dinner party with place settings for the artist’s favorite feminists. Though she was not a “guest” I told my friend about my obsession with George Sand. “I want to be her,” I said, putting my hands on my hips.
After we had coffee in one of the new indie shops germinating in the nearly gentrified Crown Heights. I took a look down Grand Parkway, the fall leaves were dropping rapidly in the wind. “It’s beautiful,” I kept saying to my friend. An image not likely to leave my mind for awhile.
18:45 I ducked into Blue Ribbon Brasserie for dinner with an old friend. We settled in a corner table, shielded from the bar noise. Perfect for catching up. The meal was the best I’d had in awhile. He wanted to go to a bar, so I suggested a rooftop that’s normally hard to get into. A Sunday night effort was rewarded, we were let right in immediately and sat by the pool. I sipped my Negroni and admired the views on all sides.
“This is how you should spend Sunday nights,” I said to him matter-of-factly. “you can’t let them take it away from us.”