A Season in NYC
Stepping out of the Cosmopolitan Hotel and the air is still nippy. Maybe nippy isn’t the best word, but to me it’s seriously cold. This is New York in the winter. The three way intersection of Hudson, West Broadway and Chambers Street is mostly still bathed in a pale violet haze of twilight. It’s a lot earlier than I normally get up, but I’m in the city, and I couldn’t sleep. I don’t have any plans today, except to breathe in the city and experience something new.
I head north on Hudson Street enthralled by the flawless, unspoiled sheet of snow from last evening’s dusting. The snow is still falling, but it’s more like a swirling in the slight breeze of weightless, ethereal pixies. My feet crunch with the unfamiliar sound of icy steps on concrete. I’m in a wonderland of sensory exploits. Everything is moving fast, but at the same moment, frozen in time. I am everywhere at once, yet unsure of exactly where I am at all.
She steps out the stoop of a 5 story walkup. At this point it seems useless to attempt to find words to describe her. It seems nothing I could say, would be adequate. It’s the same feeling as having the wind knocked out of you. I can’t take a breath, but I don’t care, she might have stolen my breath forever. If I had a type, she would be it to perfection. I’m certain I’m gawking at her, Standing on the blue edged step of her building, she wraps a celadon scarf over her graceful neck and over a long oxblood coat. She looks toward me in a glance, I interpret as far more social than just a passing glimpse. I find myself making no usual attempt to look away. She gives a coy smile and steps off the steps to begin walking several yards in front of me. I match my pace to hers and in my mind, we are walking together.
All interest of the shimmering snow, the glinting light on the parked cars, the steam rising like ghosts from the steam vents is gone. My attention and interest are squarely placed upon her being at this moment. I simultaneously hope she knows how I feel, and at the same time I hope she doesn’t know. She takes a right at Laight St. Perfect, I was going there too, or at least I am now. She strides from the curb into the street with the elegance of a dancer. The snow barley gives way to her weight. The world has become far smaller. But much more beautiful.
At the corner of Laight and Thompson streets a problem arises. The light is red, traffic is heavy, it is quickly apparent I will catch up with her and my silent fanciful observation will be forced into the world of reality. So be it. There are a few people walking in other directions, to other places, I am scarcely aware of them, except to see their blurring shapes and colors as I stop just behind her at the light. I press the button for the walk signal.
A voice from the heavens comes to my ears. Like the Serenade of the Winds by Mozart the lilting tones of her voice amplify my already accelerated heartbeat.
“I already pushed it.”
I knew she had, I saw her do it, I just wanted to touch something she had touched. Despite the fact we had just shared a metallic button on a street corner touched and fondled by countless others, this was out first contact, only to be followed by our first exchange. Her sweet song of a voice still dancing in my ears. I simply looked to her and smiled. I want to speak, but too many synapses are firing in my head to allow for meaningful words. I hope my smile speaks well.
At the green light we cross together. A block and a half up the street she takes a forty-five degree turn onto Watts St. I follow. Just steps past the intersection at the corner of Thompson St. She turns.
“Are you following me?” At first, I’m panicked she caught on so easily, then I realize in her inflection, I sense a feeling of coy flirtation.
“Perhaps we’re going the same place.” I’m proud of myself for saying perhaps instead of maybe.
“Are you going to SOHO?” She asks.
If I wasn’t going to SOHO before I am now. Even if SOHO was infested with rabid wild bears covered with anthrax, with chainsaw hands and lasers for eyes, I would be going to SOHO.
The phrase “my mind is a blur” comes to me as we walk together down Watts St. She works at a collectable book store in the East Village. I try hard not to stare too much into her eyes and her lips as she talks, I’m sure I’m doing a lousy job, I am enchanted, but enchantment is exhilarating.
Suddenly, I realize if she is walking to the East Village, and we don’t have much time left together. The prospect of her being gone abruptly is far to tragic for me to face on a cold morning like this. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine it anytime.
“Would you like to have coffee with me?” I ask.
“ I was going to ask you the same thing.”
At the corner of Broome and Spring Streets, we step into Café Café, and for both of us, into a new chapter of our lives.
Trying to curb my enthusiasm isn’t something I’m schooled at, especially sitting across from an enchanting, astute, remarkable woman. I imagine every emotion running through me is emblazoned across my face like a marquee in Time’s Square. We seem to share a connection I’ve never known before, and I hope she feels the same. Something tells me, she does. Our coffee and talk flies by far too fast. She is expected at work. I have the courage of Prince Valiant I ask if I can walk her to work. It sounds so cavalier and chivalrous. She accepts, happily. We walk to the Alabaster Bookshop on 4th and 12th. At the intersection of 4th St. And Broadway, I reach out to take her hand as we cross the street. I’m not looking at the signs anymore, we might as well be at the intersection of Harmony St. and Bliss Blvd. The weather is warming a bit. She removes her scarf as we arrive at the bookstore. I ask if she has lunch plans. She tells me she was planning on thinking about our time together for lunch. I’m reeling.
“Can we meet for Lunch?” She asks.
“What are you gonna do until then?”
“Slap myself and make sure I’m not dreaming.” I tell her. I’m surprised by my candor and verve. “I suppose, I’ll just walk around and see the city.
“Don’t get lost, I’ll see you at noon.” Then she is gone, disappeared into a small store placed between a Subway and a Place simply named PIE, I don’t know what they do, but my only real interest now is how to make time pass swiftly. I cannot wait to see her.
She waves goodbye as the light dust of snow stops falling.
Time does crawl as I suspected it would, I walk by Stuyvesant Square, I see the NY Eye and Ear Infirmary. I imagine somewhere in this city, they have an infirmary to help pass the time. A place where a I could walk in and have 3 hour pass like no time. I’m not sure what they would call it. Maybe a job. Just on the other side of the park is the Joint Diseases Hospital, normally being surrounded by these tributes to maladies might seem somewhat depressing, but right now, I’m just reading signs to pass the time.
I ‘m supposed to meet her outside the bookstore at Noon, I arrive 15 minutes early, my nervous early makes 15 minutes seems like 15 hours. We walk to a café she knows a few blocks uptown. We hold hands as the sun melts the snow. We eat sandwiches and drink champagne at a small Café called Jadore. We sit and talk, we toast to the things we have in common, the things we can teach and learn from each other. I ask how long she has for lunch.
“I’m taking the rest of the day off.”
My heart is exploding with everything I want to say.
“What would you like to do today? She asks as she takes my hand as we leave the café.
“I was hoping, you’d say that.” She says as we head up 5th Ave. The birds are chirping loudly as buds of leaves begin to appear on the branches of the dormant trees. The sun shines brightly as we walk carrying our jackets in the warming afternoon sun.
In Bryant Park at 40th St and 5th we kiss for the first time. The flowers are rising from orderly rows as the city changes from grey to green. At the New York Public Library, she takes me to a private, rare book viewing room. She shows me a copy of an 1897 edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. The musty smell of old books is a strangely powerful aphrodisiac. We make love in the silence and grandeur of the history of the literary masters.
The next blocks and hours pass with matching euphoria and tempo. She hardly notices as I sneak away into Bedat & Co Boutique at Fortunoff Fine Jewelry at 54th and 5th Ave.
An hour later in the warmth of the afternoon sun, she says, “I do.” We are married in the Sculpture Garden at the MOMA. We have portraits shot with a backdrops of Rothko, Picasso and Haring.
We walk uptown in the afternoon sun. The air is warm and breezy. The smell of lilacs is floating on the breeze as the monotonous drone of traffic and cacophony of horns plays in our ears. The dog days of summer push the sun back into the sky as it tries to sleep for the night. All things become the same thing, everything is the same as the last thing, and conversely, the same as the eventual
We have dinner near Central Park. Restaurant Daniel, at 56th and Park. The beauty and elegance is drown by the uniformity and repetition of . We toast to out lives together. The sun disappears below the artificial city horizon in the summer sky.
After dinner we walk through the park as the leaves begin to change for the autumn, The warmth of the summer is fading fast as the sun tucks in for the night. She says, “Look a star, let’s make a wish.”
“That’s not a star, it’s Venus.”
She glares at me with a look I have not seen before. I can only assume she is angered by my correction.
At the Conservatory pond, She tells me she hates the way I call it autumn, and not fall. It’s like I’m trying to impress someone. I tell her “Perhaps some people prefer certain words.” My voice is crackling like the old dry leaves we are walking through.
We head back downtown, as the wind begins blowing hard into our faces, and we haven’t brought along coats heavy enough for the early chill. She blames me for the oversight, and Instead of arguing, I silently try to listen to the wind in the trees instead of her voice.
The heavy snow begins as we near Times Square. The lights are on full reverie as we stand in front of the Planet Hollywood at 45th and Broadway. “Why didn’t you bring a heavier jacket?” She nags at me, I’m trying not to listen. I can only imagine the loathing written across my face is similar in measure and lack of subtlety of the Times Square signage.
New York does have everything. Even 24 hour, 365 divorce services. Pedowitz&Meister LLP, at 43rd and Broadway. I spend the last of our diminishing savings on a quickie, no fault divorce. Although we do a fair amount of blaming each other throughout the proceedings. “I doubt you have any money left for a cab.” she says, as we exit into the bone chilling cold and biting wind. I give her twenty dollars, I can only imagine it’s the last exchange we will ever be forced to have.
She hails a cab. I watch the glittering colors and sparkles twinkle and dance off the unending reflecting surfaces.
“Hudson and Laight.” She tells the cab driver. She doesn’t look at me as she gets in the cab and it pulls away in the crackling snow. It shrinks into a collage of lights, reverberation and swirling snow. I can’t believe how cold it is again, I look down the street to see if I can find a bar that smells as bad as I feel.