Our feet dangled below the polished bar top as we sipped on delicate, artisanal cocktails, captivated by New Jersey’s glimmering nightscape framed before us across The Standard’s velvety jazz lounge windows. Notes from the band on stage waltzed up to the tall, magnificent ceilings, heavy with clear glass globes of faint, glowing lights. I ordered a side of fries and did not feel out of place folding out the silk napkin across my lap. I am twenty-eight, but it probably wasn’t until that moment did I finally feel like a real adult.
Every night in New York City could be the best night of your life. That’s what my friend Gwen told me later that night, as if it were her big secret, as if I needed convincing, while we were waiting for our tacos underground at La Esquina’s dark, crowded basement club. We had to get by three bouncers and walk through a noisy kitchen before descending downstairs, and I loved it.
“It’s a Monday night, can you believe it? All these people have jobs. Somehow, every night is a party and then we all get up and learn how to function through the day. It was really hard at first, but then you get the hang of it,” she paused as we were interrupted by two tipsy men behind us. They were wearing ill-fitting blazers, and perhaps decent looking when they were younger. “If you can make it out here, you really can make it anywhere.”
I wondered if that held true for the dating scene, because if I can’t make it out in Portland then surely I’d be set for failure in New York.
Speaking of, the guys that work at cafes or bars in Williamsburg are remarkably attractive. I know this because even with a roaring hangover as I dragged myself down Bedford Avenue Sunday morning and into a cafe, I sobered up to the pleasant sight of the baristas. Sadly, I was unimpressed by the coffee. I just thought I’d let you all know.
One day, I met up with someone whom I had not seen since the smoggy summer I visited New York for the first time, over thirteen years ago. I waited for JP outside on the windy stone steps of the MET museum, finishing up my lox croissant-bagel (bagels are indeed yum there.) We finally spotted each other, and I couldn’t help but smile at the memory of us as barely teenagers, darting around the Subway stations holding hands, declaring our puppy love and promising to Myspace each other daily until my return.
“You broke my heart when you left that summer, I can’t believe it took you this long to come back!!” He was totally kidding, stifling his glee as we ran into an embrace. I noticed that he had traded in his studded diamond earrings for polished loafers, and I marveled at how time had changed us from defiant rascals to arguably ambitious, good-looking grown ups. We spent the afternoon exploring lavish exhibit halls, the clicks of my heels echoing down the airy, marble chambers. My favorite piece was in the Contemporary Art wing, particularly, Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm Number Thirty. Abstract, vividly bizarre, splashy paintings (aka Action Painting) have always made me look twice and the museum guide finally articulated why: they exemplify the extraordinary balance between accident and control. Funny how all of life’s dramas can be summarized within 105 × 207 inches.
I could go on about how picturesque the walk down the High Line was, my first awkward-> drunken silent disco party, getting closed out of bars in Soho, waking up to a proposal from a handsome French man, treating myself to thermal baths or just people-watching at Chelsea’s Market, but there’s too much to say and it was all just the beginning. I guess, now that I’m an adult, I should go back to New York more.