The three of us began meeting monthly for Sunday brunch in the city wherever booze was served. The location changed as frequently as the weather but the company and conversation never faltered. We were young, in love with New York, and relished the time to compare our adventures over long meals. The stipulations in the beginning were plentiful: We'll meet at 11 but I have to study for the GRE this afternoon so I need to be home by 1; Three o'clock sounds great but I need to be on the 5:15 train because I HAVE to do laundry tonight. I refuse to buy panties at KMart at midnight again!; Let's meet at 1 so we miss the major brunch crowd and I'm home in time to see the Eagles game. None of these pleas were ever fulfilled of course because drinking, eating, and mostly talking was always too enticing to allow responsibility to prevail. Brunch always crept into a light lunch and sometimes even slid into dinner, when allowed by the "house." We all lived meagerly, saving for weeks to treat ourselves to such events; they never failed to deliver an extraordinarily divine afternoon.
Months of feasts abbreviated by errands, engagements, or (usually) closing time led us to host meals chez nous. The first up was Geoff who would host from his over sized 2 bedroom in Harlem, typically young-NYC complete with Phillipe Starck chair and craigslist roommate. Jane called me the night before to tell me that her boyfriend couldn't come because he moved out earlier that day and she would meet me at 125th and Lex at noon if I wanted to share a cab into Harlem. She is strong and proud and shares when she is ready so I took her cue to leave it alone and delicately accepted her offer, before rapidly dialing Geoff to speculate on the sordid details of this falling-out. Naturally, it was not the first.
I woke to torrential downpours and smiled to see the trees verdantly gleaming through the slamming waves of water. Arriving at the station, I met an icily calm-faced Jane (and her bf!) and swallowed my surprise only to have it choke me when Geoff, blunt and unapologetic, exclaimed a baffled (Oh!...) upon opening the door and seeing Rich. We feigned a blithe giggle of informality as I surveyed his kitchen, taken aback by the impossibly golden light surging through the room, then flooding the hallways to the rest of this inviting apartment. The light and Geoff; topless in worn flannel pants of blues and white resuming his station at the stove, tackling a massive skillet of smoking bacon while the arms of female stranger enveloped him and brushed his nipple.
I tasked myself with profuse bloody Marys and learned she was Melissa, one of Geoff's hometown friends whom we had heard about frequently. Pondering his intimate relationship with this group that has always been enviable I laughed out loud when Jane and I, beckoned by the radiance from his living room, came upon a nude portrait of the ten of them within the salon-style arrangement adorning his walls. Pressed to disclose the circumstances, he brushed it off with a veiled blush as one of those things kids do when they graduate.
Outside the rain surged. Rich and Melissa were seated among our triune and oh did we feast! Pillowy mounds of herby scrambled eggs; arugula salad with a homemade dressing coating the leaves lightly like fresh nylons; succulent potatoes and crispy bacon flanks grabbed by the greasy fistful; my Buzina Pop inspired lemon ricotta pancakes; fresh blackberries; not to mention the Screwdrivers, Mimosas, G&T's, wine... It was a celebratory feast of friendship, youth, maturity, and the city.
So in love with this city of friends was I, that I walked home over sixty blocks in unforgiving rain, slightly lost at first after all of that liquid happiness, but eventually smiling all the way. Geoff and I discussed the fete the next day through laughter as he admitted that he had to clean whipped cream off of his couch that morning, where Melissa had retired at nightfall, long before the three of us were ready to dissolve the party. A blur of this friend lunging for his fresh-whipped cream and strawberries before flopping on the couch scuttled before my eyes and the weight of the memorable evening sunk deep into my soul.
Older, wiser, I wince a bit when conjuring my tendency to irresponsibly squander the day through gorging gluttonously of drinks, food, friends... but one must acquiesce: these moments of insouciance bind this whole little package of my life together. Happy new year.