A Night in New York – Part 2

As I exit the Standard and walk to meet Chris, that moment of sadness that always washes over me whenever I’m in New York arrives. The first flush of night has deepened the already-gray day, and I pass groups of girls smoking and unsteadily wobbling about in their high heels, and suddenly this despondent view of life lands me in a brief depression. It is the “sinking humanity” feeling I get when I visit this city. I try to focus on the sweet woman who did her best to guide a lost tourist on the subway earlier in the day. I think of the care and concern in her dark eyes, and the way she did her best to explain where we were, all in her light accent. It reminded me of all the good that was in the city, and in the world. Now, I struggled to hold onto that feeling but it was slipping away. I leaned against a sign post and pulled my coat a little tighter across my chest, crossing my arms in defensive fashion. A plastic bag pushed by the wind flew across the street, almost in slow-motion. Caught in the wake of a turning taxi, it eventually flutters to a stop. There are ghosts even in the midst of all these people. Strange, lonely beauty too.

I spot Chris across the street and my melancholy passes. We walk down the stairs to a new restaurant, Megu, where we have a dinner cocktail. A blood red Negroni greets my lips, and the distinctive texture of velvet brushes my hand – either from the chair or the rope-wound handrail that led us downstairs. More smiling faces of greeters and hosts and bartenders, and all of them mere masks. I’d rather talk to my friend than meet new people, but Chris has always been more social in that respect. Even when we are together, we are always alone. I’m ok with that solitude; I think it makes Chris panic.

We head over to the McKittrick Hotel, where our ‘Sleep No More’ adventures will take place. The dashing and debonair Colin takes care of us, and we sip our pre-show cocktails while an enchanting atmosphere takes hold. The darkness that fleetingly frightened me earlier on the street has evolved into something thrilling, and as the show takes us into its surreal world, and the clock strikes midnight, I’m walking through spooky rooms that seem conjured from nightmares and dreams. There’s a graveyard on one floor, a maze of a forest on another, and scenes bathed in blood and lust, all leading to their grandly gruesome climax.

Reconvening in the bright lights of a nearby diner, we eat fries, and Chris orders a strawberry shake. It’s a 3 AM scene we’ve played out a number of times, and every time we wonder if it will be our last.

I hope not.

Not yet.

The next day I’m heading back up the Hudson River. Despite a woman talking loudly on her cel phone (which takes two dirty looks to quell) I am able to fall into another troubled sleep. ‘The Perfume Lover’ rests on my chest, a lone comfort I hug closer to myself, as if a friend might be found in a book, and there’s no reason to believe he or she can’t. When I awake, we are still an hour from Albany, but closer to the end of the day. The sun finally emerges, shining brilliantly for one brief moment, tearing across the river and lighting up the surrounding foliage, only to say goodnight and cloak herself in clouds and mystery by the time we arrive.

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