“It was so great to see you guys,” I said, as I pulled my sleeping-bag jacket firmly around me. Everyone hates this jacket because it’s totally unflattering, (“Boxy,” Sheri has decreed). But I like it because it’s long enough that if I wear tall boots, no one can tell I’m wearing my pajamas while I run errands around the neighborhood.
“You too, girlie,” Thalia said. She zipped up her own coat. Cold weather had officially settled in NYC.
“If I don’t talk to you ladies beforehand, have a great Thanksgiving,” said Sean. I moved in to give him a hug and he hugged me back tightly.
Thalia, Sean and I had met for our usual two-month catch up session. Normally, we meet on a Saturday evening at my place so I can wow them with my culinary skills with such menu-dazzlers as, ‘Make-Your-Own-Taco-Bar’ or ‘Make-Your-Own-Burrito-Bar’ or, if I am feeling especially creative, ‘Make-Your-Own-Taco-Salad-Bar IN A TACO SHELL BOWL.’ But since it was almost the holidays and everyone was busy, we decided to meet on a Tuesday. Which meant Hooters.
Thalia and Sean like the wings at Hooters so it is always our weeknight choice. I don’t really care for wings but I do care for cheap beer so I’m down for that. We’ll spend a few hours chatting about our lives, work, relationships, whatever is new. I’ll eat their curly fries and they won’t make me chip in for it.
Sean is from Trinidad and everything he says sounds lovely and soothing and Thalia is from New York and everything she says sounds true and direct. I am very fortunate in the fact that I have many friends in NYC who are like family. And Thalia and Sean are no exception. Thalia now, for all intents and purposes, is actually a part of my family as she has established a completely separate relationship with them, whom she’s gotten to know when they’ve come to visit and also when we all traveled to my hometown for a week-long celebration of my 40th birthday (which she orchestrated). She will email with my Mom or check in with my Dad and his wife about upcoming vacations or new television shows or… actually, I don’t know. It doesn’t involve me. I have no idea what they all talk about. When she travels to California they will all meet for lunch and send me pictures.
We three couldn’t be more different – Thalia, Sean and me. I often wonder why they decided to take me under their wing all those years ago. But for whatever reason, they did. These are the kind of friends who will help you move – even when you’re moving out of a 4th floor walk-up and into a 5th floor walk-up. In the middle of July. Which in NYC is the equivalent of Hell. But they’ll make it fun and take pictures and play iPod playlists and you’ll eat pizza and drink margaritas and leave thinking it was an amazing day.
Hooters is in Midtown West, which is an area I don’t go to that often anymore as my life now centers around the Upper and Mid-East areas of the city. There was a time when that was not the case.
I had been quieter than usual that evening during our catch up because I was freakishly tired. It was that kind of fatigue which makes your arms feel like they’re made of lead and you find your left eye twitching. But as I said goodbye to Thalia and Sean, I knew I still had a lot of work to do at home, so I walked up to 57th Street and rounded the corner to Starbucks. I knew this street well.
After I paid for my coffee, I walked to the front of the store and stepped outside. My eyes glanced across the street and then moved up the luxury apartment to the windows on the 7th floor. A freezing blast of air tore through my jacket and I pulled it closer. I gripped the coffee cup in the hopes it would give me warmth. This place. That building. This is where it all had started.