I Heart NY
There’s no place like home. At least that is what Dorothy has been telling us for the past 75 years. I found my very own version of home on October 11, 1996 at exactly 10:30 p.m. when I landed at JFK airport. I was 18 years old, a mouth full of braces, no place to live, no friends or family but I had five pieces of luggage and a dream. That dream was to be a creative person living in New York City and finding true love. So far, I’ve only managed to become a creative person surviving in the hustle and bustle that is Manhattan but I’ve never given up on love. I guess that’s one of the many survival skills it takes to make it here…never give up.
My week started off in typical fashion; tackling the gym, writing, and of course…the social life. On Tuesday, after the gym, I was standing in line at one of my favorite take-out Mexican places called, Burrito Box. I was ordering food for myself and for a dear friend of mine that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for several years now. He’s a man that saved in me in many ways. I was in a bad relationship and in the process of leaving that relationship and moving out our apartment that we shared together at the time. I found an ad on Craigslist for someone looking for a roommate in Hell’s Kitchen. I answered it, we met and almost instantly the relationship began. Five amazing years of living together, it was time for him to start a new chapter and for me to take over the apartment that we shared for five years. I’m thankful that not only is he back after a stint in Los Angeles but that he’s merely a few blocks away from my apartment. So, as I arrived at his apartment with a bag full of Mexican food, it was time for our usual catching-up session. As the evening wore on and I told him that my anniversary of living here was coming up. It occurred to me just how in debt I am to this person. If it weren’t for him, at that time when I needed a place to live, who knows where I would’ve ended up. So, for that, I show gratitude, appreciation and looking forward to how the friendship will continue to flourish.
On Wednesday, after work, I ended up meeting an ex of mine from several years ago for drinks at the bar, Therapy. We ended on great terms but lost touch through the years, mainly because he’s a single parent and that, in itself, is a full time job and his time is extremely limited. There we were talking over vodka on how our lives have been since we last physically saw each other. It’s funny that when a relationship ends, you sometimes wonder how you affected the other person. You never know if somewhere out there you are getting a good, bad or mixed review. By the time we finished our drinks, my ex was telling me how grateful he was that when we dated, how understanding I was about him being a single parent and how glad he was that we reconnected. I guess, it’s nice to know that I have at least one good review out there.
The next day, I was working late at the office and in a panic that I wasn’t going to make my blind date. This blind date was arranged by a former coworker of mine that said, “I’m tired of reading about your horrible dates. I’m setting you up with someone really nice.” Now, we all know, in the dating world that “NICE” can range from an account that wears pleated pants to a man with the longest nose hairs that you can swing on. I’ve already been out with both of those types and so I was dreading the date when she used the term “NICE.” However, I was in no position to pass any sort of judgment and I agreed to go on the date. The blind date and I had been exchanging messages for about a month but between me getting adjusted to a new office; my brother’s wedding the calendar was rather full until this past Thursday when I agreed to finally meet him. He had informed me of his love of margaritas and how he lived only a few blocks from where I do. So, naturally, I suggested that we meet at, Arriba Arriba. He was thrilled having been there before.
I got a text from him saying he was already standing outside the restaurant when I was still putting the finishing touches on what I was wearing that evening. I told him I would be there in five minutes and I actually was there in eight minutes (I was rather proud of myself). On gut instinct alone…I wasn’t that attracted to him when I saw him on the sidewalk. He is not an unattractive man but simply not my cup of tea. However, we were standing outside and I just took a deep breath and said, “Shall we?” We sat down and I immediately went into date mode where I asked the standard date questions. After several years of dating in New York and you do this for a living. You get the knack of what questions to ask and how to steer the date from going off the side of the road. Our margaritas arrive and with only two sips in, I noticed something about my blind date. I noticed that his right eye didn’t move at all. His left eye moved perfectly natural but the right eye didn’t move. I did my absolute best to be polite and not stare but, in order to be polite, you look at the person’s face when they are speaking to you.
I didn’t know where to look but I was listening to every single world with the greatest of intent. I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable but he caught on pretty quickly. He finally said, “Are you looking at my eye?” I knew that I was busted and needed to own my actions. I said, “Yes. Yes I am. I’m not trying to be rude but I am. I’m very sorry.” He said that it was alright and that he’s used to it now. He is blind in his right eye. He suffered an accident a year ago (when I asked what kind of accident; he didn’t want to talk about it). I thanked him for being honest with me and proceeded to drink my margarita. As the date went on, I realized that we didn’t have anything in common. A functioning right eye or not, if I liked the person or that we had things in common or even if I was physically attracted to him. It wouldn’t matter. What mattered was that we disagreed on everything. When the date was over with, I thought for sure he was going to walk the block to his apartment and let me walk home by myself. He insisted on walking me home and I said yes out of guilt.
We didn’t walk in silence mainly because I can talk to a tree stump and be entertained. However, when we got to the corner of my block, he wanted to walk the entire way to my building. I allowed it to happen and that’s when he tried to lean in for the kiss. I saw it coming and I was sober enough to have the reflexes like a cat and dodge the kiss with a hug instead. He told me he had a wonderful time and wanted to see me next week. I told him in the most polite way that I would need to look at my calendar and wondered off into my building. By the time I put my key in the door, there was a long text message from him saying how much he liked me that I was cute and that he wanted to see me on Monday. I decided to not feed the beast and would address things the next morning.
The next morning, I sent him a message thanking him for taking the time to meet me and told him that I didn’t see a romantic connection between us but if he wanted a friend; I could certainly do that. He respected that and also thanked me for being honest with him and not stringing him along.
On Friday, I was to have my third date with guy that I’ve had some nice dates with already. However, he had his cousin in town and needed to spend time with her and we rescheduled. I was alright with the rescheduling mainly because it gave me a chance to see my friends that I hadn’t seen in a bit. I arrived at my friend’s apartment where we drank and talked for several hours before meeting some friends at The Eagle. I didn’t stay too long once we arrived or so I thought. In my mind, I thought it was only a little bit past midnight when I left the bar with another friend of mine. However, when I got home, washed my face and looked at the clock, it read: 3:30 a.m. Another late night and probably facing another hangover and I had no one to blame but myself.
The next day was Saturday. Otherwise known as my New York City anniversary and I decided to take it easy. For it wasn’t about me or my anniversary that day. It was about two wonderful friends of mine that were having their wedding reception that evening. There was a ton of things to do before needing to be at the venue by 6 p.m. I was in charge of informing all my friends to arrive on time. We were to not be late but to arrive on time which was requested of the grooms. I was ready on time and decided that before I get to the venue, which was only a few blocks away from my apartment that I would take myself out for a glass of wine and toast myself and the city. Time slipped by and suddenly I realized at the bar that I was late for the reception. I hustled as fast as I could to the, Robert at the Museum of Arts & Design, in Columbus Circle where the reception was being held.
I was feeling a tremendous amount of love and gratitude that day because of my friend’s special day and also how far I’ve come since arriving to the city 18 years ago. As soon as the elevator doors opened to the 9th floor, there were my friends. Some were making fun of me for arriving late and of course, there were hugs all around. With a glass of champagne in hand, I made the rounds of meeting parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, coworkers and admiring the spectacular view of Central Park. The entire evening was amazing from the food, the way my friends looked at each other, the speeches and of course…the dancing. It was very safe to say that every single one of us had an amazing time.
We all left the venue and ventured over to my apartment so some of us could get out of our suits and into more relaxing clothes. After that, we went to the bar, Flaming Saddles, where more friends of ours joined and then ending the evening at Posh. I got home and was so drunk that I had to sit on my bed for a little bit to make the room stop from spinning. I finally got the room to stop spinning like a disco ball and passed out. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
The next morning, I woke up and naturally, wasn’t feeling my best. However, I had a busy day ahead of me. I was having brunch with a friend of mine, whom I’m also in a lot of debt with. I owe her so much for she’s been there for me for many years and has since left New York for a life in Boston with her boyfriend and family. She was in town and there was no way I was canceling brunch even though I felt like death.
I arrived at ABC Cocina and instantly gave her a hug when she walked in the door. It was me, her and two other friends of ours. I thought a mimosa would cheer me up but I think my body was rejecting the idea of needing the hair of the dog to make me feel better. We caught each other up (even though we communicate every single day) but it was nice to have face to face time with her and everyone else at the table. After the brunch, everyone had other places they needed to be. I needed to be back in my neighborhood by 4 p.m. for I was having my third date.
It was a wonderful fall day in the city and so I decided to walk from Union Square to Hell’s Kitchen to meet my date. I was looking forward to seeing him and it had been about a week since we last saw each other but pretty much send text messages each day. We agreed to meet where we met on our first date, the bar, Atlas. I decided to try a beer to see if this would make me feel more balanced and it did the trick. I was back. He was back. We all were back. We had several beers there and then decided to go to Barrage for a few more. Once we were done with our beers, we went back to his apartment where we sat on his couch, cuddled, watched television and made out during commercial breaks. However, neither one of us were in the mood to remove any articles of clothing. I was crashing fast and so was he. I knew my reason was because I was hungover and tired. He was exhausted himself and suggested we walk together to Burrito Box (I can’t get enough of that place) and then he’d walk me home. It sounded like a good idea to me and we walked, talked, ordered our food and he kissed me goodbye in front of my building. I enjoyed the time we spent together and it felt natural and nothing was forced. I was in bed by 10 p.m. and ready to tackle the week ahead.
18 years and it’s been my longest relationship. It’s safe to say that I’m in love. I’m in love with New York. She’s provided me with the most amazing family here. A variety of apartments that have ranged from scary to scarier and to my home and a dating life that I’ve managed to somehow make a living off of. However, I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is that love comes in many different forms. It comes in the form of friendships, it comes in the form of skyscrapers, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge and the loud noises it makes to let you know that you are in New York. I heart you New York.
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