New York State of Mind.
photo credit Brian Solis
“I bet you never had a round bed at the Four Seasons, either,” she replied, looking around the room. In addition to the central, circular bed, they had incredible views of downtown Manhattan and the Hudson River and a bathtub in the middle of the bedroom.
“I am eager to try out the bed,” he replied, grabbing her and twirling her around the room. She demurred, and instead showed him the lights across the Hudson.
“That’s New Jersey,” she said. “That’s where my mama’s from.”
“You’re joking.” She shook her head. “Your mother is from New Jersey?”
“She is. She went to Italy to do a semester in university and she never came back.” Francesca smiled with nostalgia. It had been her favorite family story when she was young–her mother, the American art history student, running off with her father, the Italian student activist. She had imagined their romance when she was a teenager, after her father had died, a memory based more on creativity than fact. Her mother now seemed a stranger compared to that young woman of her imagination, carefree and easy once. Her father’s death and the overwhelming influence of his family had changed all that.
She snapped back to attention. They could see the new Freedom Tower, too, from the downtown-facing windows, all illuminated though it was still incomplete. She reached for Selim’s hand.
“Let’s go out,” she said. “Before I fall asleep.”
They walked through the streets of the West Village, smoking cigarettes, peering into the windows of the townhouses, and peeking at the corner cafes. The Spotted Pig was bustling with crowds outside and Francesca and Selim ducked in to try to get a table. They stood at the bar to wait; Selim drank a draft beer and Francesca had a cocktail called Corpse Reviver #2.
“That’s rather grim,” Selim said, to no one in particular.
“It’s a classic,” the bartender explained. “Back in the day, it was a hangover cure.”
“There you go,” Francesca said.
“People here are so friendly,” Selim whispered to her. “I don’t know why they say New Yorkers aren’t nice.” She could detect a hint of sarcasm even in his whisper.
“It’s delicious,” she replied, passing him the pretty gimlet glass to taste her drink.
Selim looked anxiously over at the hostess station. “I wonder why it’s taking us so long to get our table.”
“Relax,” she said. “This is fun. We’re at a bar in New York City.”
He drank his beer. “You’re right,” he said. “I’m almost always here for work, I forget what it’s like to have fun.”
“I’ll remind you,” she promised. “We’re going to have a great time.”