Happy Birthday, my Love
I cannot believe that it has been nearly nine months since I saw your lovely face, gazed into those beautiful green eyes of yours, held you close. I hope you know how much I love you ... and always will.
I remember your birthday, three years ago today. Just a few months after we first met. When you decided to throw yourself that little birthday party and inivite so many friends of yours from our little world ... the beginning, really, of that wonderful "community" that exists within the hobby here in New York.
I remember your birthday, two years ago today. Just a few months after we got the apartment ... our little love nest. A much smaller party, just a few of our close friends. And it was good.
I remember your birthday, one year ago today. That final party at the apartment. I am so sad that you were not really able to enjoy yourself that evening ... because of how you felt and because of ... well, things. But it was so wonderful to hold you tight the next morning.
This evening, on your birthday, a few of your close friends will be getting together ... I think you know that. I hope you will be with us, in some way. I am sure that you will.
Our years together ... brief though they were ... were the happiest years of my life. Your being a part of my life has changed me in ways that I still do not and cannot understand. So many of the things that I do, I do because I think you want me to, such as helping our "mutual friend" with her present problem.
I spoke with your mom yesterday. She told me that the 12th was Mothers Day, fifty-one years ago when your arrival made her a mother for the first time. She misses you so ... as do so many people who you touched with your life.
I love you, babe. I miss you. I am so lost without you. Although I am unsure of my beliefs about such things, I hope, and pray, that we will someday meet again, somewhere, someplace. But you know I will never forget you ... not for a single moment.
Yes, she is still talking to me
A strange day yesterday. (Someone here already knows the story ... but I feel I must share this one ... it is just too bizarre.)
Yesterday I spent the afternoon and early evening with someone ... someone who is known to many here, someone who I have known for many years, someone who I introduced Miki to ... and they became friends. But a strange, almost surreal, experience in actually getting together with her yesterday.
She was staying in a hotel on the west side of Manhattan. She had emailed me the name and address of the hotel. By pure chance, on that particular street, there are two hotels with very "similar" but rather unusual names. She wrote one, I mentally registered the other. She told me the room number.
At the appointed time, I knocked on her door ... or so I thought ... but no answer! I called her ... said I, open the door, I am outside ... said she, I just did, no one is there!
It took me a few minutes, but I eventually figured out the problem ... and I walked the two blocks to the correct hotel ... and things proceeded from there ... many things ... which I cannot and will not go into.
Only once before in my four-and-a-half years as Hyabby, Hyabby who has visited hundreds of hotel rooms on the fair Isle of Manhattan, has such a thing occurred ... almost he exact same thing.
It was about three years ago. I was on my way to visit a lady who I knew ... who I had met once before that day. She told me that she was staying at "the Marriott on 40th Street." There is a Marriott on West 40th Street, just west of 6th Avenue, which I knew, which I had been to before. And so it was there that I went. I knocked on the door ... no answer!
A phone call and ... turns out she was in the Marriott on East 40th Street ... two blocks away. A hotel I had also been to before. But when I had been there before, it was a Comfort Inn. At that particular point in time, Marriott had just taken over and re-branded the property a few weeks earlier. I had no idea, then, that there even was a Marriott on East 40th Street!
So ... a two block walk, and all was well.
And now for the "Miki moment" .......
Yesterday, as I was waiting for the appointed time, I was talking on the phone with someone ... someone who I had not spoken with in a few years ... someone who had been a very close friend of Miki's a while back, even before Miki and I met, although they had somewhat drifted apart ... someone who will be in New York next week ... someone who is also a friend of the "lady of yesterday." Just talking about life, and about Miki, and about getting together next week to raise a glass and remember her. Just a phone call to kill some time.
And then came the confusion ... and then the resolution ... of yesterday.
And who was the someone I had been speaking with just a few minutes earlier? Well, it was the "lady of the Marriotts" ... but of course! And then moments later, I re-lived that strange scenario!
Such is my life these days. She is pulling my strings. And I hope she never stops.
That time of the month ... again
Six months to the day since she left us. I feel that I must write something today, although I have no idea what I want to say.
No new restaurant closings to report. Sometimes it seems she is not talking to me anymore ... even though I am still listening.
I recall a year ago this month ... Valentine's Day ... a wonderful day together. And yet, by then she was feeling ... so sad, so melancholic. I now know why, although I did not know then ... athough I should have.
I have just been re-reading her blogs. And from late 06 to early 07, I can see the change in her. I was there ... every day, every minute ... and I did not see it.
Well, not quite true ... I did see it, but I did not fully appreciate or understand what it meant ... what she was feeling deep inside, what she was trying to tell me without actually telling me ... what she was trying so desperately to avoid tellling me, telling those who loved her.
Oh God, babe, I so wish that there was something I could have done. I would have done anything, whatever the cost. I hope you know that.
I love you ... I miss you ... until we meet again ...
It has been five months to the day ...
or so the calendar tells me. I really have no internal sense of time any more. Or rather, time seems like a fluid concept - sometimes it feels like only five minutes since I last saw her beautiful face, other times it feels like five years ... or even fifty. But no, the calendar tells me it has been exactly five months.
The calendar also tells me it is a new year, which is good - 2007 will not go down in history as one of my favorite years. I did manage to survive the "holiday season" ..... with a little help from a few dear friends ..... one in particular - thank you, Lover.
One of the highlights of the holiday season for me was "the tree" - no, not the big one in Rockefellar Center, but rather the little one on Eighth Avenue. Perhaps a picture will help tell the story.
The balcony on the right, the third below the top of the photo, the one which appears to be just above the cornice of the older building on the right, was our little love nest - her "Pleasuredome" as she so loved to call it. (And yes, the roof of that older building is the site of her Tomato Grief - and the "looking down" photos from my last blog.) The lowest balcony on the left is the home of "L" and "J", a very charming gay couple. (I do feel the need to protect their names, since the building is quite identifiable to anyone who knows the geography.)
When I was in the final stages of cleaning out the apartment in October, I was left with a few of her plants, after most of them had been carried off to her mother's and her daughter's. I asked L, who had always had a lovely garden on his balcony, if he would like to take them, give them a home - and he did. I just had to find them a home, after all - she would have hated me if I had left them to die.
One of those last stragglers was a live evergreen which had been given to us the year before by a client of hers - a friend of ours. That little fir had been our Christmas tree that year, trimmed with lights and ornaments for a little holiday party. (The first time she really celebrated "Christmas" ... and the last.) When I saw that tree again last month, on L's balcony, trimmed with lights and a star on top for its second year as a Christmas tree, my eyes welled up with tears.
I saw L on the street about a week later. (I pass the building often - it is, after all, only a block from Penn Station which I pass through daily. That was one of its main advantages - but now makes it difficult for me to avoid. As they say in the real estate business - location, location, location ...) So anyway, I ran into L on the street, thanked him and gave him a big hug. It's good that J was not with him - he would have been jealous. Nah, he would have understood ...
Even though it has been five months, even though it is a new year, she still "talks" to me constantly - I know that she is trying to tell me something, I just have no idea what. The "restaurant saga" which I mentioned in my last blog continues. The total is over a dozen now. (I have actually lost count - one day I must sit down and make a list.) But the latest, which I discovered just last week, is a story in itself which I must tell, for it surely must contain a message.
In that fascinating neighborhood of New York known as the Meatpacking District is Chelsea Market, a former Nabisco bakery (factory actually) which is now home of some charming food shops, restaurants, Food Network studios, corporate offices. She and I used to wander there often - to shop or to eat. For anyone interested, the website is http://www.chelseamarket.com It was also, until very recently, the second home of Frank's Butcher Shop & Steakhouse, a fixture in that neighborhood since 1912.
Frank's had a special place in our life together - and in the lives of a number of people from "this community." From late 2005 until early 2007, there was a group of hobbyists and ladies who would get together every few months for drinks and dinner. There was a core of New Yorkers, and a number of visiting ladies who would join us if they were in town. One or two of them might even be reading. The site of these gatherings was, of course, Frank's.
Last week, I found myself in the Meatpacking District, at the newest Apple Store in Manhattan, which opened in December. Interestingly, that Apple Store was, until a few months ago, the home of Markt, a Belgian brasserie where she and I shared a meal in early 2006. Its closing a few months ago was number four or five on my list! Perhaps it is a sign of renewal and rebirth that Markt has recently re-opened in a new location in the heart of Chelsea.
So, leaving the Apple Store, I wandered into Chelsea Market which is on the next block heading uptown. I just feel the need to visit these places sometimes, masochist that I am. As I approached Frank's (which is ... was ... about midway through the block-long building) I began to get a tingling. Sure enough, it was closed, the interior gutted, tables gone. Hanging on a wall, just inside of the closed glass doors was a handwritten sign. I was moved by that sign and transcribed it to the trusty Blackberry. The sign said:
And so we end. The plates cleared, our cups empty. Once again thank you for your love. Raise a cup and remember us.
Was that sign written and hung there for the benefit of all former customers - or just for me ... and for her? The answer seems obvious ... or is it?
But wait, there's more (in the words of the infamous Ron Popeil). As I was standing outside the glass doors, absorbing the fact that Frank's was gone, transcribing those words on the tiny keyboard, inside the door was a Chelsea Market maintainance guy. He was in the process of hanging brown paper over the glass doors. Five minutes after I transcribed those words, neither I nor anyone else without access to the interior of the closed premises, could ever read those words again, since they are now behind the brown paper covered doors!
What are the odds that I would walk by that spot at exactly that moment? Not a day, or even an hour later, when I could not have read that sign ... not a day, or even an hour earlier, when I would not have known that soon no one would again read that sign ... but just then, when I could both read the sign and know that no one ever would again!!
She is talking to me - but what is she saying - I so wish I knew.
I could never forget her, even if I wanted to - which of course I do not! The reminders are always there. Just this week, a hobbyist mentioned her on a local New York board, in a thread totally unrelated to the hobby, but related to a crisis that he is undergoing in his real life. I was, of course, compelled to comment. For anyone interested here is a link - read all the way to the bottom of the thread.
The Friday before New Years, I was on my way to her mother's house for a visit. Yes, her family and I still talk, see each other regularly. As I was literally two minutes from her house, my phone rings. It was a hobbyist who is a friend of mine and was a good friend of hers - in fact, he was one of the charter members of that group which used to gather at Frank's. He and I had not spoken in a few weeks - but he called me, just then, not an hour earlier or an hour later, but just then, just as I was approaching her mother's door - I ended up sitting on her steps for a few minutes to finish the conversation.
How can this be? When does coincidence end and something else, something strange and mysterious, begin?
Babe, I miss you more than you will ever know......