Our story: New York love at first sight

She left for New York. We were 2000 miles apart.

A few weeks later, I visited New York. It was the first time I was east of Mount Rushmore. The first time I was in a city larger than Seattle.

She picked me up at the airport as afternoon was turning to evening.

As we came onto the bridge approach, Manhattan spread out before us across the river. The sun was setting behind it, the sky a riot of color, the buildings silhouetted, the lights twinkling.

Magical. Oz. A vision.

I fell in love. Instantly. Before I set foot in Manhattan. Before I discovered freedom.

It’s gritty and crowded and potholed and dirty and noisy. It’s a promised land.

Friday night, she made scallops with beurre blanc. Saffron risotto. Premier cru Chablis.

I was dead when I got off the plane. Dinner, conversation and her smile happily and drowsily revived me.

We made love. What a wonderful phrase!

Saturday morning, I woke at 6, naked in a tangle of sheets, arms and legs.

I carefully disentangled, stole her robe, padded out to the kitchen, started the coffee, padded back, took a shower and got dressed, got coffee, was tempted to wake her, got the paper, read it cover to cover, got more coffee, was tempted to wake her, was ravenous, remembered her raving about the corner bakery, got two cheddar-chive brioches, two croissants, a half-dozen pains ordinaires and a puff-pastry cinnamon spiral, went back to her apartment, was tempted to wake her up, ate a cheddar-chive brioche, decided that she was right (it is the perfect breakfast savory), debated whether it would be unethical to eat the other brioche (it’s her own fault she’s still asleep), decided that the only way to thwart the temptation was to wake her.

I woke her up, two and a half hours after I got up. She said some hurtful things. The most hurtful was that I don’t know how to make coffee. Which was true.

I made a mushroom and gruyère omelette and bacon while she showered. Over breakfast she explained to me that the City indeed does sleep, between the hours of 6 and 9 on Saturday morning.

We walked the City. She showed me her neighborhood. Walked up Riverside Park. Wandered through Columbia.

We held hands.

I stopped her, put my arms around her. She put her arms around me and we kissed, sweetly and gently and chastely. Right out in front of God and everybody. Just like ordinary people. And nobody cared.

We rode the subway. She called it “The Electric Sewer”.

It’s amazing. It just works. It appealed to the minimalist engineer in me: It does what it’s designed to do. Every hour of every day. Nothing fancy. Just works.

It’s a showcase for the insanely coexisting diversity of the City. Black, white, brown, yellow, Christian, Jew, Moslem, Buddhist, Jain, straight, gay, …

She took me undie shopping. Mmmmm. Eres. Simone Perele.

More on that later.

Saturday dinner. A joint effort. Roast chicken stuffed with lemons and tarragon. Little new potatoes, turnips and four colors of carrots roasted in the pan with the chicken. Pea-shoot salad. An insouciant little Touraine. Stinky cheese with port.

If there was no other reason to love New York, the ability to get a chicken with flavor would be enough.

Watched the Cardinals.

We made love. What a wonderful phrase!

Sunday morning, I woke at 6, naked in a tangle of sheets, arms and legs.

I went through the same routine as I had Saturday morning, but kicked her out of bed in time to get to church.

I made Eggs Benedict for brunch. She made Bloody Marys.

We walked around Central Park.

She drove me out to the airport. I flew home.

When I was alone, I was never lonely.

Now I was lonely.

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