18 March 2009

Scotch and fur coats for our girlfriends.

People have wealth in different things.

Usually in New York, these things are tangible. Whether it’s money or jewelry, or even art donated to the Guggenheim, it is no secret that the city isn’t short on luxury and large pocket books.

I, too, am wealthy. More than most.

But I don’t have money. And the only nice jewelry I own is a cherished pair of diamond studs given to me by my father for my 21st birthday. I haven’t invested in anything, I don’t own a car and I don’t have a trust fund.

I am wealthy when it comes to friendship.

Over the years, I have met more faces than I could care to remember. I’ve had friendships end in flames and I’ve had friendships end in heartbreak. Over the years, I have loved and lost and loved and lost again. The only thing that was consistent was the unwavering support of a handful of friends.

Every girl in my opinion needs a select few in order to get through the day-to-day. These are individuals who have your best interest at heart, no matter what. There are no ulterior motives.

When I moved to New York, I left this group, physically. We left each other. One went to Seattle and two stayed in Oregon. My tight knit circle also extended to San Diego and Los Angeles. As a whole, we couldn’t get further apart. I lucked out when one of my dearest friends moved to New York a month after I did.

But even so, since moving here, I’ve traveled in a large group of one. And in that time, I have started an incredible and exhilarating relationship. And that relationship is with myself.

Last week, I took myself on a date. I went to Union Square to see a movie. Bitter New York theaters didn’t have matinee or student discounts (the reason why I still tote my school I.D.), I paid the horrific $12.50 to see Kate Winslet in “The Reader”.

After I took my seat in the fairly empty theater, I noticed two women at the bottom of the stadium steps. Both women looked to be in their late 90s, but that’s not why they caught my eye.

I was drawn to these women because they were adorned in their Sunday’s finest for a Thursday matinee. Both wearing full fur, floor length coats, matching felt hats and jewels that even the great Elizabeth Taylor would be envious of, the women were clutching each other’s hands.

As they made their way up the stairs, helping one another with each four-inch incline, I knew they were going to sit directly next to me—which they did. While they were getting settled in their seats, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop.

“After this,” one said. “I’m taking you back to my apartment and we’re going to drink some scotch.”

I had to turn my head to hide my instantaneous, foolish grin.

“Well what if I don’t want to drink scotch?” the other retorted. “It’s only 5 o’clock!”

“Well I don’t care what you say. We’re going to drink scotch after this.”

“How could I interject and get invited?” I thought to myself. I don’t even like scotch, but something tells me the liquor in this woman’s cabinet is as old as she is, and I’m all about having a cocktail with girlfriends.

“How much did you pay for the tickets?” asked the non-scotch drinker.

“I’m not even going to tell you. I told you, it’s my treat.”

“That’s nonsense. You tell me right now!”

I no longer felt the theater was robbing me. These two’s go-around was worth every penny.

“Excuse me, miss,” the non-scotch drinker asked me, fully turned in her seat. “How much is a movie ticket for a senior?”

“Well I’m not sure,” I tell her. “But my guess would be around $7.”

“Thank you,” she said now fully turned to her other side. “She, right there, told me a ticket costs $7, so here.” She gave a handful of wrinkled bills to the scotch drinker. “And I don’t want to hear anything else about it!”

To some, the banter of these two women might have sounded abrasive, but I understand what relationships between girlfriends are like. Sometimes you can get frustrated and blunt with your favorite people because they’re the only ones who know that it comes from a good place.

As the lights dimmed, and the first preview started to show, the scotch drinker leaned into her friend. “It’s very good to be with you.”

“And the same with you.”

11 March 2009

Be a good one.

When I told my parents almost a decade ago that I wanted to live in New York, they immediately gave me their full support. There is no endeavor I could face that my two biggest cheerleaders wouldn’t encourage.

I could tell them I wanted to move to the Moon, and they would grab an atlas and open Google’s browser in attempt to help me in any way.

At a friend’s graduation party last year, I was telling a group of middle-aged attendees I just met about how my father was driving with me cross country to make my big trek. A very pompous and pretentious man I had met briefly before, snarled.

“What’d ya have to do to make him do that?” he asked rudely. “Bat your eyelashes and say ‘please Daddy, I love you Daddy?'”

The group of adults laughed.

“Actually, no,” I retorted more directly than I had intended. “He’s my Dad and wanted to help me in anyway he could. He’s driven across the country a half dozen times. I’d be crazy not to have him come with me.”

The group was no longer laughing. They were shifty.

“That’s just what you do as a parent,” I continued, knowing full well this man had a daughter around my age. “You help your children.”

When no one replied, I took it as my cue to go sit on the porch.

Living 3,000 miles away from my parents and brother has been tough. I find that since my move, I gravitate towards parents I’ve met here because I miss that sense of family.

When the entire eastern part of the country was annihilated by one of the heaviest overnight snowfalls last week, New York City was suffering from the ripple affect: Traffic delays turned into power outages which turned into broken water heaters which turned into chaos. The only people excited about the storm were children, who got their first snow day in five years, and Mike Favetta, Brooklyn 12’s highly annoying weather man.

My subway line broke down the day after the storm camouflaged Brooklyn, turning my usual 15 minute trip to Fort Green into a two hour odyssey. Commuters from various down trains were herded like cattle to the only line that was running out of South Brooklyn.

As I took a seat, I noticed the woman next to me had brilliant blue acrylic nails. They matched her brilliant blue acrylic phone cover.

“I just hate this cold,” she says leaning into me, not making eye contact. “It turns everyone crazy.”

She was a stout African American woman with beautiful teeth. The blue tooth headset in her ear was blinking the same color as her nails and phone.

“I don’t really mind it,” I tell her.

“You see my son, LeRoy, he’s a pilot in the Bahamas. I just visited him. They’re having beautiful weather.”

“I can imagine.”

“You should have saw him,” she says, placing her cobalt fingernail on my bundled up knee. “In his pilot uniform. He looked so handsome. I am so proud of him.”

“He must be very brave,” I tell her.

“I told my kids when they were young that they could be whatever they wanted in life—they just had to be good at it.”

I nod.

“Anything,” she reiterates. “Even if they wanted to be a bum.”

I start to laugh.

“I’m serious. As long as they came to my house to shower and eat every once in awhile, if that’s what they wanted to do, and they were good at it, then I would support them.”

“I think that’s wonderful.”

“Well you have to support your kids,” she says. “In everything they do.”

I come to find out later her name is Bernadette.

I’m at that stage in my life where I’m no longer a kid, but I feel too young to be a fully certified adult. I’m truly fortunate to have two people in the world who are my ultimate soundboards during this transition.

In the interim, I am going to be a good one. A good what? I’m not exactly sure. It’s a hell of a mantra to live by, but I’m going to take Bernadette’s word for it.