Friends in the City
This will be a old-fashioned 800, like the good old days when I wrote what was on my mind and told my stories, the best and the worst.
On a Tuesday night in July, Hannah Rose and Lauren came to New York City. We’ve always said we would take an international trip before one of us got married. In high school, our destination was Argentina, where Lauren grew up. Over the years, Argentina became Spain, Spain became Europe, and Europe became anywhere abroad. Then life happened, dreams became reality, and our international trip became New York City.
For their first night, we stayed on the Upper West Side and raided Trader Joe’s for the essentials: potstickers, peaches, ice-cream, flowers, chocolates, and cookies. We cooked dinner in my tiny kitchen, reaching over and around each other for olive oil, pots and pans, dish soap. After dinner, we walked to the West Side Community Garden where a cloud of fireflies surrounded us at dusk, and I told them about counseling, questioning the beliefs that have always come easily to me, and my fear of being trapped in a dark forever.
The next day, I went to work while they explored the city. But in the evening, we had dinner on the roof of a boat on Pier 66. The Manhatten skyline glittered to the east and the sun set over the Hudson River to the west, streaking the sky with pinks, blues, and reds. We ate salmon and the risotto balls, crispy and creamy with some magical kick—the best bite I’ve had in New York City. We walked the High Line after dark, sharing what we were looking forward to in the second half of 2019 (which turned into what we’re not looking forward to). On our way home, we popped out of the subway in Times Square (because you have to do that at least once), and it took Hannah Rose and Lauren five minutes to realize they never want to return here again.
Thursday was the 4th of July, and we took it easy, sleeping in, making breakfast at home, packing a picnic lunch for later. We biked around Central Park in the morning and lingered over sandwiches, trail mix, and apples in the shade. In the afternoon, we walked to the MET and walked through the Camp exhibit. It was heavy, sad, and twisted, but important. I didn’t rush. I read, looked, listened, and learned. I felt compassion and remorse for the injustice and abuse that the LGBT community has suffered for centuries. And I held that tension in my heart, asking the Lord to resolve it someday, even though I knew it wouldn’t be today. That night we went to Domino Park in Williamsburg for the Macy’s firework show—another magical New York moment with friends, a fuchsia sunset, and tacos. The subway ride back into Manhattan was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it. Three packed trains came and went before we could board, but we got home as sweaty and smelly as ever.
Friday was my birthday, and Hannah Rose and Lauren were the sweetest celebrators. We got semi-dressed up, and I curled my hair because I wanted to feel cute and look twenty-six. We had waffles, eggs, and espresso at Buvette, my favorite little French place in the West Village. Then we got our nails done, strolled through Washington Square Park, popped into Housing Works Cafe for coffee and cookies, and did a little shopping in Soho. We got hangry and tired around 3pm, so we jetted back to the UWS for pizza and naps. Then we prepped for my birthday picnic. Lauren and I walked to my little neighborhood grocery store to pick up watermelon, wine, salami, cheese, and fruit. Hannah Rose and I scouted out the perfect shady hilltop between 80th and 81st. Lauren brought funfetti cupcakes right when people started showing up, about twenty in all, each person contributing their own blanket and snacks. I didn’t realize how many people I have in New York until they all showed up together at the park. Before long, our hilltop was colored with figs, apricots, pasta salad, champagne, m&m cookies, and more cheese. Some people knew each other, but most people only knew me. I worried it’d be weird at first, but it turned into a meet-and-greet of some of my favorite people. I flitted from one person to the next, introducing the people who didn’t know each other, and we stayed in the park until 10 o’clock, surrounded by fireflies again. My heart was filled to maximum capacity.
Before New York was a possibility, I prayed for this—for a job in publishing, an apartment on the Upper West Side, and a community of people who share my faith and make me feel at home. This birthday was a beautiful celebration of all three. Twenty-six has been my favorite birthday yet, and now, I get to pray and wonder and dream about what to pray for next. Amidst all of the questions I have for and about Him, God has always answered and provided more than I expect. I’m excited to see what happens next.