Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Celebrating My 10,958th

From (my other blog) Blog-By-Bike:

I received the following email today from City Wendy:
Hi Katie, Happy, happy belated birthday! I saw on twitter that you're starting your third decade and I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you're actually in your fourth decade! But don't worry -- it only gets better!! Hope you're doing well, Wendy

"By golly, you're right," I replied - because that's the kind of corny lingo I like to throw into conversations with friends. And because I'm an obsessive-compulsive, semi-perfectionist, I'll be revising any erroneous "third decade" references in previous blog posts. Standby for said corrections.

I closed out my third decade with an intimate evening among girlfriends at Brasserie 8 1/2 on Sunday, January 17 - my last night in my 20s. I had received a 50/50 offer from the Patina Restaurant Group, which you can also (currently) obtain by clicking here or here. The birthday gift certificate entitles the bearer to spend $50 and get up to $50 (alcohol excluded, of course) at a variety of Patina Group restaurants (some location exclusions apply). One hundred dollars-worth of food for $50? Yes, please. I made reservations for a party of six in Brasserie 8 1/2's lounge area and we ordered $100-worth of table shares from their Bar & Lounge Menu. At $25 for any combination of three table share items, we enjoyed a pretty nice spread. The Mac & Cheese and Goat Cheese Croquettes were strong favorites.

On Monday, January 18 - the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observance - more widely-known as my birthday, I treated myself to sleep-in until 11:30am, went to the gym with my roommate Bianca, and then dragged her to Brooklyn for my second trip to R&A Cycles, where - with the assistance of an Al - I may have narrowed down my bicycle selection for a final purchase! After leaving the bicycle shop, with much of my burden of indecision lifted, we hiked (literally) to Grimaldi's, where my pre-determined birthday eating route was foiled by the two-hour line outside of the famous pizzeria. We settled for Water Street Restaurant & Lounge and were pleased with the overall selection, though I did continue to pout through the appetizer course about not having my favorite pizza. The day was redeemed, however, when a stop next door at Jacques Torres and Bianca's birthday-date-drop to the sales clerk, resulted in five free chocolates.

Throughout the course of my day, I also vowed that I would celebrate my birthday in days, moving forward and moderately inspired by something a recently-partially-paralyzed Orson Hodge said on last Sunday's episode of Desperate Housewives:
"Please roll me over! Please help me off the toilet! Please! Please! Please! That's the life I'm facing now; having to ask people for help, for everything. Do you know how hard that is? Every morning I wake up at five; you get up at 6:30. For an hour and a half, I lie there, staring at the bedroom door, fantasizing about how lovely it would be - how excruciatingly lovely it would be - to get up and make myself a cup of tea one last time. No 'please'. Just hot water and tea."

Later, I learned that I am not the first to embrace this philosophy of formally celebrating my birth and my existence by the day. It made it a lot easier to wake up at 5:40am for my weekday six o'clock gym session this morning. To get up and yawn through the fatigue and get going ... because I can.

The highlight of my birthday - while I regret that the highlight had to be significantly monetary in nature - was several donations from family and a close family friend - the latter being one who is practically family. Given the rate that I have been burning my metaphoric candle (a.k.a. my body) at both ends, their financial contributions toward my cycling tour were received with immeasurable gratitude and immense relief. I spent three-and-a-half days out of the office last week [job #1], trying to recover from a severe cold. And - given the fact that I had grossly overestimated how much I would make cocktail serving in the poor state of the economy [job #2] - I've been stressing over my need to scale down my evenings at the lounge to one night per week. Between two jobs, I am considerably behind in finalizing my bicycle purchase and heavily committing to the physical training and conditioning for my transcontinental ride.

So the best birthday gifts of all came with zeros this year ... or rather, on my 10,958th day - but I also know that those zeros were motivated by love.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Forever Young

From (my other blog) Blog-By-Bike:

"... Without a wrinkle in today 'cause there is no tomorrow, just some picture perfect day that lasts a whole lifetime. And it never ends 'cause all we have to do is hit rewind. So let's just stay in the moment, smoke some weed, drink some wine, reminisce, talk some sh**, 'forever young' is in your mind. Leave a mark that can't erase neither space nor time. So when the director yells cut, I'll be fine ..."
- Jay-Z featuring Mr. Hudson, "Young Forever"

Last month, I was cat-sitting at my [job #1] boss's apartment in the East Village while she and her husband spent their holiday in Costa Rica. The first weekend of my two-week stint, a snow storm hit the entire east coast, from North Carolina to New England. It left behind the magical, white Manhattan wonderland that barely lasts a day before city traffic turns everything into murky slush. I was enjoying this wonderland, strolling along with Jay-Z's "Blueprint 3" album playing on my iPod. It's funny how random songs on your playlist sometimes create the perfect soundtrack to your day.

I walked through the quad of my boss's apartment complex and the opening bars of Jay-Z's "Young Forever" began to hum. As I approached the front door, two adorable, little Asian girls were cautiously descending from the stoop. At the bottom of the steps, the older of the two little girls raised her face to the sky and flung both arms into the air as she began to run.

As I turn 30 years old tomorrow, this is the random slice of time that I've chosen to define the start of my next decade.

"Snow! Snow!" the little girl squealed as her smaller sister, running behind her on the freshly shoveled walkway, copied her motions and repeated joyously, "Snow! Snow!"

"Forever young," Mr. Hudson sang to the private soundtrack in my ears, "Forever young ..."

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Over and Over Again

I had a dream that I had an opportunity to travel back in time. It's a recurring dream that I've had several times over the years. The scenarios and locations vary, but the scene is generally the same. They're nearly spot-on remakes of fights Rickey and I once had.

I "awake" suddenly in my 21-year old body, nearly ten years younger. I feel my legs storming away from where Rickey is standing about 30 yards behind me. It is dusk in Cullowhee. The street lamps are already on. I immediately remember this moment back in 2001. I know exactly where I am.

Rickey and I were arguing in the freshmen parking lot across the creek from the track at Western Carolina University. I was walking away, my arms swinging in anger. In actuality, I don't know how long he stood there, probably watching me walk away. Or maybe he had turned around and taken the long way back to Leatherwood Hall, as I had stomped to Helder.

This time, I am no longer upset. My 30-year old mind, grief-stricken from over six years of regret, slams my 21-year old legs to a halt. I spin my younger self to turn and face him. He is still standing there and initially appears shocked to see me stop. And then I run. I run and I run. I run like I have never run before. Tears streaming down my face, my hair whipping behind me. And I leap into his arms, nearly knocking him backward.

The dream is so real. I can feel the warmth of his body and the smoothness of his face as my cheek presses against his. I can smell him. A familiar mixture of cologne and laundry detergent. I can feel his arms wrap around me. His embrace is familiar, safe. I feel like I can't get close enough to him. I have longed for a moment like this for so long.

"Why didn't I do this before?" I sob.

"It's ok," he replies, in a calm tone. "You were angry."

I begin to shake uncontrollably as I cry. He hugs me tighter.

"It's ok," he says again. "I was angry, too."

"I'm so sorry," I cry. "I'm so, so sorry."

"We said a lot of things that we didn't mean," he says.

And then, the parking lot around us begins to fade, the street lamps become balls of fuzz. The world blackens around us.

As a dim light began to glow in the darkness, I awoke, blinking into the soft glimmer of a street lamp shinning through my bedroom window on West 51st Street. And behind it, I saw the twinkling lights of the Time Warner Center, towering silently in the night. A taxicab honked. A car door slammed. In the distance, someone shouted a quick farewell. And below my window, the sound of horse hooves clopped along the street as it pulled a carriage home from Central Park.