Autumn in New York was morning’s loose change dancing in a faded jean pocket jangling notes like high jazz as you skipped to the doo-wop-shoo-bop-feeling tapping notes like low jazz from Upper East Side’s favorite old haunt – Ella’s; notes so low her heavy voice is both sugar and murk like running into a date while sipping on a glass of cabernet in the terrace of that quaint West Village café while on another date, and Thursday night when he sees you with Friday night trips on the cobblestone is all things whimsical like the cobbler accidentally losing a horseshoe in Central Park only to trip you up during your autumn evening jog is all things lost that are worth finding again. Such is the way this season in this city found me. Not that I was wanting to be found. In fact, I was quite content being lost during these times of losing.
Though all was not lost. Internationally President Obama had just won the Nobel peace prize for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy, while here at home he would soon launch his landmark healthcare reform bill providing universal coverage to all Americans.
Which was perfect timing actually, as New Yorkers had long been suffering from curious cases of the malfunctioning heart. Having witnessed infinite tales of break-ups to make-ups to break-ups again, the city had evolved past the traditional fairytale romance that plagued the world. As a temporary cure we had surrendered to the idea that love existed only in fleeting movie scenes. In cab rides and subway stops. Traffic jams and the first snow of the season. In the turn of a leaf, the drop of a mic, the heady fragrance of a cologne that reminds you of someone you once knew, the first sprinkle of summer rain. This theory not only helped us survive in the city but boosted our immunity as we sat across the zillionth blasé prospect during the zillionth random date to become vaccinated. If there was one thing we, as jaded New Yorkers could rely on, it was not love, but that ever-elusive, ever-evasive je-ne-sais-quoi called luck. Because ultimately it was luck that you happened to see your high school crush 15 years later at the local Starbucks on 6th Ave. It was luck that you were running late for that morning meeting, and ran to catch that empty cab at the same time the handsome Italian entrepreneur did, your eyes locking in a film scene. It was luck that the board members of that foundation happened to stick around for your speech at the charity fundraiser due to the thunderstorm that just wouldn’t quit and found you perfect for that new director’s role, leading you to quit the corporate job and follow your dreams of non-profit. And finally, it was luck that beckoned you to a city like New York and through a friend, a job, a school, or some circumstance made it easy for you to continue living in this wondrous city.
My luck was looking up these days as well-wishers chanced into my life. A portfolio manager/mentor at work, an entirely adventurous connoisseur of art, music and whisky, would share with me tales from hiking in Kanchenjunga to the birthing rituals of Bali to growing organic coffee in the Andes to the incomparable art of the Sudanese tribe. He had an exorbitant collection of Ganesh relics from his frequent trips to India and would gift me one each time. Images of pujas in Kolkata, the marble entryway of my grandparents’ house ornamented with rajnigandha and chandan – tiny feet drawn in to invite prayer, to welcome God, reverberated in my mind with the calls of the conchshell. With the entryway of my upper-east-side studio newly blessed by the remover of obstacles, I was hoping to coax on whatever magic was free and available to find me around the corner.
Which would be perfect timing actually, as my recent dreams had found and left me haunted. No New Yorker was immune to the stark events that transpired in the city. Urban occurrences of suicides, murders and rapes, not to mention everyday muggings, harassment and robberies had left me quite spooked. In my dreams I saw doors. Doors opening to deserted alleys where things happened. Where knuckles and fists and brick and tar serenaded the menacing knives of night. Some nights I would wake to screams from the sidewalk outside and was unable to muster the courage to investigate what was happening in the world out there. Perhaps it was just a drunk couple fighting on the street after too many beers. Perhaps not. The other evening my friend had gotten maced in the middle of Union Square for no reason at all; the maniac just walked by, sprayed her eyes and kept walking. Another friend, another day, and another incident of being robbed in broad daylight on 27th and 8th. Although my friend was dressed to the nines and on her way to an annual ball, she chased him in her stilettos for 9 blocks with the goal of being able to clutch onto her Bottega Veneta clutch once again, unfortunately to no avail. On any given day in any given corner of the city, one could just hope that luck would find us before something (or someone) else did.
Though at times, luck was definitely not on everyone’s side when it came to matters of the heart. My friend, returning from yet another uneventful date with an uneventful prospect quickly realized that her date was not so blasé after all, when she received this email from him inspired by the MasterCard TV commercials:
Two tickets – $46.
Two popcorns – $14.
One autographed baseball – $50.
Real conversations with your 11-yr old son.
The email he sent her Monday morning read:
Pre-dinner drinks at Thompson Hotel – $50.
Dinner at Soho House – $250.
Dessert at Sarabeth’s – $40.
A night with you.
To be continued.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.