I have this fantasy about you and New York City. Late at night, it’s raining softly. And we’re under ground in a little restaurant below street level. A low ceiling. Stone floor. Wooden stairs to my right. Tea lights on the tables. Laughter and the clinking of dinnerware and drink filling the small space. Charming conversation.
Our waitress is from Poland. She’s quite busy tonight. The barkeep from Éire. His tap never at rest. Nobody minds. Everyone is happy inside here. Just like you and I.
There’s standing room only for a while. So we make small talk with one another. Then our favorite table is free. Off in the far corner. On another planet. Cranberry linen. A brick wall behind me. The other patrons at your back. Two seats across from one another. A wobbly table between us.
You smile when you tuck my hair behind my ear. Leaning in close so I can absorb every word tumbling from your lips. Leaning in closer because your words are only meant for me. I get so lost in your vocabulary. Transfixed by your tales. And transported to your memories. One word at a time. One story before the next.
You’re quite smart. And I can hold my own.
Sometimes you talk over me but I always deliver the punchline. We’re so similar, it stll catches you off guard, but I’m getting used to it. Worlds colliding. I think it’s nice to catch up. Here in our place beneath the East Village.
My hand rests on the table by the pepper, yours beside the salt while we talk. Our fingers engaged in a dance but never parted. We sit like this for hours. Leaning overtop untouched meals. Our voices only slightly louder than a whisper. Our little secrets. Your hidden gems. Everything you’ve kept to yourself all these years. The anecdotes and the backstory. And the night goes by so fast. And the water is freshened often but the forks never rise from the table.
So much to say. You’re not crazy. So much to tell you. Neither am I. So much to hear. But what do we know?
Kaska clears our plates. Eventually returns with doggie bags. You leave a big tip and pull out my chair. And I take a cab to Penn Station. My heart full and my brain well fed. Until we meet again by the tulips in Abingdon Square and pick up right where we left off.
Just you and I … and New York City.