No Friday Links today because I've been traveling, but this is a reminder that on Monday we'll be discussing Jane Eyre for the Read Great Books literature challenge (RSVP here) and that my latest episode of the Sorta Awesome podcast is live today, this time we talk film festival culture and celebrity preschools. Click here for the notes.
We had barely arrived and dropped our bags in the hotel room in New York before my oldest friend Drew arrived to meet for drinks and dinner. I miss Drew, even though we speak regularly. We went to elementary school together, then high school, then college. Our lives used to intertwine in a thousand ways: school and church and music and dates and friends. Now we live on opposite coasts, and our shared threads are dwindling. Now we take turns talking about ourselves, and listening. Seeing his familiar face reminded me how much he makes me laugh.
The lobby of the Bowery Hotel is where The Gorilla spent his evenings last year while shooting the Budweiser commercials, and he wanted to return there on this trip. It was my first time to stay at the Bowery, after years of preferring a particular SoHo hotel, and I’m skeptical of trying new things. But he judged this one correctly, it was the perfect backdrop for meeting up with friends. I drank Mai Tais, the absolutely opposite taste in the dim room, decorated like an old English mansion.
Drew navigated the streets to Sauce, where I ordered meat and polenta served on a plank of wood. Three friends joined us there, squeezing onto the bench seats and stuffing purses and coats in the corner. We all got worked up about a hot topic, then laughed uproariously over the same topic. There was a line of cabs when we finally stumbled onto the street after midnight, but we decided to walk.
On Tuesday morning, The Gorilla and I meandered the streets, shopping a little on Elizabeth street and Mulberry before we sat down to order the onion soup at Balthazar. There’s always a wait there, but we were seated right away, with an older couple speaking Russian on the left, and a family of daughters speaking French to my right. I always sit up straight and uncomfortable in full New York restaurants, where the diners’ proximity to one another is just inches. It makes me self-conscious and quiet.
That evening my friend Roxy met me in the hotel lobby for another round of Mai Tais and catching up. I met Roxy when we traveled together to Sri Lanka, and I spent the first two days of that trip mistaking her silence for disdain. On day three in the van in that foreign land, she stopped me cold with a story. We’ve been friends ever since.
Roxy and I had a lot to talk about, it had been nearly a year since we had seen one another. Two hours flew by, and we finally joined my husband, friends, and in-laws in a different corner of the lobby. We made dinner reservations for five people, then ten, and finally settled in to eat at a restaurant around the corner as a party of seven.
One end of the table got into international politics and the other into mindfulness and body energies, and I was grateful for the location of my seat.
In the morning we met friends for coffee, then stayed lazy most of the day before hair & makeup. So lazy that we just ordered a room service dinner and watched sports news until the very last moment we had to put on decent clothes and get in the waiting car.
College friends came on the train from Connecticut, book club friends came from Brooklyn, I was giddy to see them all at the theater and hug their necks before the screening, and then again at the party after. They served champagne in bottles with glowing green straws and there was a DJ up on a platform, though it was mostly too crowded for dancing.
We closed the place down, were finally ushered by a large bouncer into the New York night. We grouped off and flagged down cabs, and back in the hotel lobby we had to keep dragging more chairs over to accommodate the growing circle. I said my goodbyes and crawled into bed before my husband, begging off as I usually do when it gets late or early.
I ate lunch by myself in the lobby before we left. I journaled and read Jane Eyre and listened to a bad business meeting beside me. We made our flight to LA by the skin of our teeth, the traffic to JFK more atrocious than usual.
Until next time, New York.