This summer has sped by. Since I drove my sister Erika’s Rav 4 up from Florida, I have made an effort to make good use of my new wheels in the city by taking little trips out of it whenever possible. My schedule is flexible and catering gigs were rather scarce in July and August, so my friend Susanne and I decided to mark Wednesdays for our adventures. Our first such trip was to a lake about an hour outside of New York, accompanied by our friend Peter – who is from Bavaria like Susanne – and Evangeline, a former collaborator of mine who was visiting from the west coast. We drove through highways and stopped in a small town deli for sandwiches and beer before continuing up the road to the park. I had brought my guitar and my lovely little Vibram shoes and the four of us made our merry way through the woods to a small lake. There we found a sloping rock shelf to set up on and ate lunch and swam and drank our PBR tallboys. We played some music and swam some more. At one point, the sky clouded over and fine drops of rain splashed daintily onto the surface of the lake as we swam, making a soft musical sound, like tiny tinkling shells.
We had to head back to the city so I could get to a figure modeling gig in Brooklyn, so we hightailed it back through the woods and made it back to the city just in time. After my class finished, I went to Susanne’s house where we shared dinner and hung out a bit more before I drove back up to my neighborhood.
Each Wednesday held another adventure: Jones Beach, the Rockaways, City Island.
Near the end of July, Nora was back in the city and we went to Montauk for a night with Alexis and had some lovely beach weather. It was the first time I went back to Montauk since the weekend my sister died, so it was a little bittersweet, but fun nonetheless.
We headed back to the city when it started to rain. Nora and I were rather debaucherous while she was in town, one night staying out with my former co-workers at Snohetta till the wee-est of hours, one night taking in the Reverend at Union Pool to the tune of too many Tecates and shots of Herradura.
Once Nora left, the summer seemed to wind down quickly. It is hard to let the beautiful weather slip away. I have, after all, had a Year of Summer. Since I left New York at the end of July 2012, I’ve barely brushed up against Winter, and when I did, I made sure to beat a retreat beachward asap. But now my tan is finally fading, my skin waves the white flag of surrender. Memorial weekend (by Memorial weekend, I mean Labor Day weekend – I am not an observant American, apparently 🙂 a group of friends invited me to join for camping on a lovely little island full of pine trees, populated by clumsy daddy-long-legs, surrounded by a lake in the Adirondacks. It was a lovely weekend, but a cloudy one. We picnicked once in the rain – we ate incredibly well, since many of my friends there are Italian. We made Turkish coffee with Absinthe and sipped it, hedonistically.
But Labor Day weekend is more like Memorial weekend for me, now that I think of it: it is the week that my family and I all remember the anniversary of my sister Erika’s death in 2011. It is really hard to believe that it has been two years now.
The last year has passed so quickly and at each stage I had another step in the path in front of me to tread. Now, at last, I’ve reestablished a sort of equilibrium and rhythm in my life and found ways to support my style of life without compromising control.
I had lost my journal in November of last year and kept hoping to find it when I went home. Luckily, it was there, nestled into the shelf above Erika’s bed among her novels. Sunday night I made dinner: couscous and tropical fajitas (my own recipe of mango, plantains, onions and peppers, grilled with savory spices). After dinner, we popped a bottle of pink bubbles and I lit candles around the fire. I told my friends about my sister Erika and read them the story I wrote about her last year at a writers retreat in Northern California. We sang Amazing Grace and drank our bubbles. I had a nice conversation with one of the people there whom I hadn’t met before, a woman who told me about how she’d lost her fiancee to cancer when she was 25. One thing I am grateful for regarding getting acquainted with death is that it allows me to speak with others about their loss, and contrary to the human tendency to clam up, I think that talking about pain is a good thing.
The next day we made ready to leave the island and packed up our camp. The boat came to ferry us across and we loaded our cars and headed back to the city in the still grey light of the overcast weekend.
Last year, I was at Burning Man Memorial weekend, remembering my sister in the temple there. This year of course the talk of Burning Man was pervasive. Funny how anniversaries, like familiar places, open wormholes to other times. How different the world looked last September and October, as I roamed the West Coast with wild abandon. We come now at the anniversary of my birth next week, which is also now the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Last year I was at Yosemite, turning 31 in the last scraps of pleasant weather before the season switched gears. This year I am back in the city I thought I’d sworn off, unsure why exactly I’m back in the its thrall. Nothing compares to New York.
I worked a week of crazy shifts as the champagne popper in a VIP lounge for fashion week. I met Alan Cumming and his boyfriend and shared oxygen with Tyra Banks, Linda Evangelista, the Hilton sisters, the Jonas brothers, etc. It was pretty exciting, and very exhausting.
Last weekend Sarah was in the northeast to perform in Philadelphia and I drove my little car over to see her there. Her performance was incredible, as always.
After the show we went to a place called 19 – the bar at the top of the Bellevue Hotel – which afforded gorgeous views of the city. As a sidenote, Sarah told me that that hotel was actually the genesis of Legionaire’s Disease. The next day we headed back toward New York, making a stop in South Orange to visit our friends David and Casey at the home there. It was a nice catch up with the couple, whom I hadn’t seen since their wedding last June, before I left New York. What a universe of time has passed since then, and yet the wormhole effect makes those memories live like it was yesterday. Sarah and I continued back to the city and I dropped her off at a hair appointment before returning to Brooklyn. On the way, I cursed the traffic, until I spotted Alexis with a friend crossing the street. I flagged them down and they hopped into my car and accompanied me back to Brooklyn. We went to a cute local cafe, the West, for beverages and then I gave them a ride to Alexis’ house.
I met Sarah later in the city at an Italian restaurant where we had delicious pasta and wine and Sarah sang happy birthday in Italian for the restaurant’s manager. The staff enjoyed her performance so much that they broke plates on the floor and whooped. We left to meet up with my friend Melinda and her boyfriend and ended up – where else? – at the Four Faced Liar on West 4th Street. We made a merry party until it was time to head back to the BK and then Sarah and I turned into pumpkins.
Sarah left the next afternoon and I was planning to stay in bed until it was time to go to work at the Beauty Bar, but then I realized with a sudden certainty that Sarah had my car key. I called her and happened to reach her just as she walked from the L train to the A train. Yes, she had the key, but she needed to catch a train and couldn’t afford to bring it back to me. In the end, she left it with the man at the newspaper kiosk there and I picked it up that afternoon before going to the bar to set up my little manicure station.
This Friday, a full moon eclipse, bookended the season I’ve spent back in this city. At he last eclipse at the end of April, all of the thoughts and dreams I’d had about coming back here seemed smashed just as I solidified my staying. The summer was for recovery, for reintegration, for reimagining and reformation. I can’t deny that I feel a bit shaky on these new legs, but I also feel alive and fortunate, even if my dreams of a happy ending at the end of this revolution were unfounded. There is still much that I have, even if the endless summer is finally at an end.
Love and miss,