All the Small Things
In a city like New York where we only know from skyscraper buildings and our entire mentality is based on the philosophy of, “Bigger is better” there are often times where we tend to forget about the “small things.” The only small things that most New Yorkers will tolerate are small over priced studio apartments and teeny tiny bathrooms in East Village dive bars. As we get older and our priorities change over time…I couldn’t help but think if we are even capable of recognizing those “small things” in life?
As the beginning of last week began everything was changing rather quickly and in the most dramatic fashion. I was faced with something that was rather devastating (at least for me). I received a phone call from my building management saying they forget to put me on a lease for this year and that they wanted to raise my rent. On top of the fact that if I didn’t have a lease signed by August 31st that I would be evicted. I instantly became pissed and simultaneously became irrational. I didn’t know what to do. This was my home. Granted it isn’t the most glamorous of homes but it is mine and it was something that was always there for me and comforting each time I turned the key. Now I was facing the fact that I would be giving this up and having not the slightest idea of what to do. Not exactly the best way to start the week but I was determined to keep my home. I called them back and offered a price on the rent increase and all I got was, “We will see what we can do. Call us back later.” Not entirely positive. There was nothing else I could but to sit and wait. Two acts that I wasn’t known for doing so well. Sitting and waiting.
On a more positive note, I had begun communicating back in the city with the guy I had met on Fire Island the previous weekend. The guy who actually showed up to a party I had invited him to with a gracious bottle of wine. The guy who knows mostly all of my friends and the guy whom made me rather nervous even after a reassuring kiss goodbye the last time we saw each other. I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see him again and if it had ended where it ended. I had a great time with that moment. Our text messages in the beginning of the week, started out rather simple with your basic, “How are you?” or “Hope you have a good day.” Finally by Wednesday, we agreed that based on both of our schedules that Thursday would be the only evening free for us both to go on a date.
Every single day of last week, I was calling my building management asking if they would be excepting my offer on my apartment and checking the status of that pending lease. Every time I called this man would answer, who I could only assume was the janitor and he would say, “Don’t worry kid. You are going to be alright.” I wasn’t sure if I was going to be alright not until something was actually signed in ink. I was a ball of nerves on top of the fact that I was also extremely nervous about my pending date on Thursday.
My editor had asked me to meet with someone on Tuesday evening about some extra freelance work. So, I suggested to this man that we meet at El Centro in Hell’s Kitchen for a drink and we could talk about what he wanted me to potentially write for him. I didn’t drink because I wanted to make sure that I remembered everything but when I got to the restaurant he was already there waiting for me and looked like he had about two margaritas already. I shook his hand, sat down and the first thing he said to me was, “Wow, you smell good and you look amazing.” I told him thank you and just took out my notebook and began asking some basic questions. Turns out he wasn’t interested in any of the questions I had. This man had ulterior motives. He began telling me he wanted to write an erotic book and began going into graphic details about the subject. I was getting extremely uncomfortable and so I stopped him. I said, “It was very nice to meet you but this type of work that you are asking me to write about is something that I am not interested in.” As I walked out of the restaurant, he came after me and apologized but I didn’t even like him touching my arm. I walked in a different direction for a block because I didn’t want him to know where I lived. When I got home, I called my editor and told her that all future meetings will be done at her office. This week wasn’t turning out at all like I hoped.
By the time Wednesday had rolled around, I was already feeling defeated. Still no returned calls from my building management and the only good thing that was going on was the texting with the guy and the fact that I was going to be seeing my friends that evening for a birthday party. The birthday party was at this new spot called, Singl Lounge, in Union Square. It was actually a mini-reunion with my friends from Fire Island and a few others. As the crew began to pour in, the attention was barely focused on the birthday girl rather everyone had questions for me. Questions like, “When are you seeing him again?” or “Have you two spoken yet since you came back to the city?” I was feeling slightly overwhelmed with amount of questions and all I could respond with was, “We are talking and have agreed to meet tomorrow. No specifics have been determined.” That was my response to each person that asked me about my dating life. At one point, a very good friend of mine asked how I was feeling about it and all I could muster up was, “I am nervous. I feel like he is out of my league.” This wonderful friend of mine put his drink down, grabbed my face and gave it little slap and said, “Don’t be an asshole. You got this.” I only allowed myself to have two drinks that night (a rarity) because I didn’t want to look and feel like road kill the next day. Plus, all I could think about was the status of my apartment.
When I woke up on Thursday I couldn’t focus on work at all. All I could think about was my pending eviction and the date. I never get nervous about a date. I have been on a million dates, some terrible, some heinous and on the rare occasion a great first date. Ok. So, I haven’t had a great first date in what feels like years but I couldn’t allow myself to get anymore anxiety ridden or else I would break out in hives. I decided that the best way to disconnect from everything was to walk down Fifth Avenue. As I was walking and trying to get lost in the city, I was on my way to Saks when I stopped in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It had been awhile since I went inside a church but given everything that was weighing on my mind, I took it as a sign that I should go in and see what’s happening. I stood there not really sure what to do or what to say, so I just prayed for a few things. I asked for help with my apartment, that a great first date present itself and also that my girlfriend get her state tax return (I know that request was random but she needs the money). I left the church and instead of spending my money at Saks; I went home to focus on work.
When I got back to my laptop and began typing, my phone started to ring. It was my building management. I took a deep breath and answered. The woman on the other line said, “Hi honey. I just wanted to tell you that the building management has agreed to your offer and we can sign your new lease on Monday. You are a good kid.” I thanked her a million ways and hung up the phone. I did a little dance and went back to typing. Not more than a minute later that I got an email from my girlfriend with no subject line but the body of the email, in all caps read: “I JUST GOT MY STATE TAX RETURN!” I was floored that this was all happening so fast. I responded to her and the minute I hit the send button, I get a text message from the guy. He was asking me if I had any thoughts on what to do that night. I gave him a vague response of just something that involved wine and nice conversation. In most of my scenarios, I would get a response back with, “Then you pick the place.” Instead, this time around I was greeted with, “How about Marseille at 8?” Ok. Did all three of my prayers just get answered in less than an hour? I couldn’t grasp the wonderful things that were happening all at once. I gave a short and sweet response of, “Perfect.” And then the small thing that makes it seem big was when he responded with, “I am looking forward to it.” It is a small sentence, a small response but it was what I needed to put me at ease. The rest of the day I kicked ass in my work and had a killer workout before getting ready. It seemed like all my friends had gathered collectively and agreed to say words of encouragement for my phone was going off with things like, “Good luck” and “Have fun. You are going to do great.” Never had all my friends wanted a date of mine to go so well. I was touched and of course, now the anxiety was kicking in. When I got out of the shower, I noticed my chest was starting to get blotchy. Damn it. I grabbed ice and tried to keep cool about my wits. There was nothing else I could do and so I grabbed my keys, phone and wallet and walked onto Ninth Avenue.
As I walked down Ninth Avenue, I was beaming…absolutely smiling from ear to ear about the fact that my home was going to remain mine (at least for another year), my friend got her tax return and I was going on a date with a nice guy. When I walked into the restaurant, there he was and we both entered at the same time. We got a corner table and instantly began talking about our days and finally the first drink was ordered. A bourbon cocktail for him and me with my bubbles and now it was time for the date to begin.
I couldn’t shut up. I think my nerves out-weighed some of the things that were coming out of my mouth. Turns out we have a lot in common. We both moved to New York in 1996. We both have no desire to ever live in L.A. and well, we both enjoy Julia Roberts. Had he stopped there with the sharing, I would have been satisfied but it was when the topic of babies came up that I really was impressed. We both LOVE kids. Score! Finally, a guy that isn’t only interested in his Equinox membership. Snacks were ordered but I was far too busy nervously chatting that I barely had time to eat. Finally the small gestures started to present themselves. The hand on a knee, the laughing and the sharing of stories all while the drinks continued to present themselves. I told my story of how I moved to New York (which is a story that takes at least a damn hour) but I figured as long as I was talking then he couldn’t break free and run for the hills. At one point, I started to get a hiccup attack and he just said, “You need to relax.” Shit. He could tell that I was nervous. I drank more. He drank more. We drank more. After all the talking and drinking I had to excuse myself to use the restroom. I checked my chest quickly to see if the redness had subsided, thankfully it was gone. When I got back to the table, all the dishes were cleared and he was signing the bill. Did that just happen? Did this guy not only plan the place of where we were going, listened to my crazy stories but also paid the bill? That wasn’t a small thing…that was a BIG thing. I told him that he really did not need to do that. His response was, “Why wouldn’t I pay? I picked the place, asked you out and that is what someone is supposed to do.” Ok. These were the kind of gestures that simply don’t happen to me. Usually the date either stiffs me with the bill or leaves and doesn’t return.
The dining part of the restaurant had just closed down but the bar was still open. So, I figured there was no way I could compete with his BIG gesture, so with my small gesture, I suggested we go to the bar and that I was going to be buying the drinks. He agreed and we sat down and ordered. More talking and the occasional kiss and I was feeling like a million bucks. I was tipsy. Ok. I was probably teetering on drunk but I was feeling like I deserved this. I was smiling on a date with a guy who was making me laugh. Wouldn’t you know after we wanted to order one more round, the bar was closed. I certainly didn’t want the evening to end and when I asked him if he wanted to call it a night, he said, “Nope. Let’s go somewhere else.”
We go outside and I spotted a wine bar across the street, Bocca di Bocco. I have no idea what time it was and I didn’t even care. As we entered the bar, it is pretty dead inside and I can only imagine that it is on the late side. I excuse myself to the restroom and when I come back there on the bar is a glass of champagne waiting for me. When I sat down, we raised our glasses and he asked me about my past relationships. I wasn’t prepared to answer that question but since he asked and had been a gentleman the entire evening; I gave him a brief answer. Seeing that my past relationships with men had all ended badly, he did something that was rather endearing. He presented his pinky finger and told me to get out mine and he said, “I would never do those things to you.” We pinky swore and then that is when I decided, in my drunk stupor to confess how I was feeling. I said, “You know, before we met I was extremely nervous.” He said, “I know. I could tell by your hiccups.” Then I said, “I felt like you were way out of my league.” He had a confused look on his face and just said, “If you ever say that again, I will slap you.” We laughed off my confession and then realized that we managed to close this bar down too. When I stood up, I knew that I was now 100% drunk. It appeared he was too because we both stumbled out onto the street looking for a cab. As we were waiting for a cab to present itself, the owner of the bar was standing outside and said to us, “You are a very attractive couple. How long have you been together?” All we could say was “Thank you. It’s our first date.” Finally, we got a cab and headed back to his apartment building.
Go inside his apartment and things got really blurry for me. I am not sure what happened except there was a cute dog trying to sleep on the bed with us and I was naked (a sleeping arrangement I am trying to get used to). The next morning and I was in his nook. We cuddled and slept soundly. Finally I looked at the time on his TV. I had to be at work in an hour. I was also on a deadline. For the first time, I was going to be late on a deadline and for the first time…I didn’t care. Things began to heat up and then we both heard a key turn into his front door. Is this happening again? Someone is coming in the next morning and I had to meet someone new with bed head…again. It was his partner for his company. He told her we’d be out in a minute and all I could hear was her saying, “Hi Alex. How are you?” And I mustered my response back. Both he and I got a good chuckle out of the situation and after splashing cold water on my face, I presented myself into the living room. I was greeted by a very sweet woman and I only managed to hiccup once. After some small talk, it was the small gesture that came next that also made the entire evening fantastic. He walked me to the corner of the street, said that he wanted to see me again and then I made my way back to my apartment.
When I got to work, I received a funny message from him that told me, one of these days I will not have to meet someone the next morning. He also reinstated that he had an amazing time. Those are the small things that I hope people out there recognize and appreciate, because I certainly did. I finished work early and was picked up by my friend and we drove to our friends, Feathers, country house for the weekend. The entire three hour drive up to Pennsylvania and I, once again, was doing all the talking. That evening we all got rather shit faced and I passed out on the couch.
The next day, we all woke up with hangovers and I barely found the energy to brush my teeth. We played games, ate and of course…drank some more. During the afternoon, I got a message from the guy and it was a picture of a pickle (which he knows I HATE and have a slight phobia about) and I thought that it was pretty damn hilarious.
Yesterday, when I got back to the city I had to get my fruit and veggies for the week but at the grocery store I realized I only had twenty bucks on me but my total was twenty one dollars. I began to panic (another hiccup attack) and the guy behind me thought it was so funny that he gave me a dollar. I dropped my groceries off and headed down to Chelsea to meet some friends of mine for cheap Chinese food. It was just what we all needed to bookend the weekend. After the dinner, I decided to walk off the meal.
All the small things that most of barely have the time to see. The person that holds the door open for you at Starbucks, when someone gets up out of their seat to let you sit or that rare occasion where you are walking down the street and a perfect stranger smiles at you. It’s those small things in life that if we actually took the time to recognize and appreciate that combining all of those small things in our lives can actually lead to something…well…BIG.
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