Hot town, Summer in the city and I’m out the front door of my building into the late afternoon heat, mounting my bike and heading west to the bike path that runs along the Hudson River. The traffic moves with little patience, humidity still hanging in the air and I adjust my earphones tuning out city noise… I notice the sky is that special blue when I cross the highway on to the path, falling in behind my fellow bikers in stripped down versions of the latest tight skinned outfits, passing tourists and dog walkers venturing out post noonday sun — the colors are brighter and sharper as the heat off the cement dissipates and I’m lost in review, smiling …
After more than a few comical moments unpeeling layer after layer of my protective armor, I was opening up to opening up. With Surfer Dude gone into the void of the “unknown future,” I had to embrace mine.
Bond, James came to town for a few days and once again, proved the perfect date, deepening our friendship. He still pined for his Florida filly but enjoyed the distraction of hanging with me… so much so that he broke a date with her on a Saturday night a couple of weeks later and invited me to fly down for a weekend of events he thought I’d appreciate more.
And so began a series of weekend getaways… a conscious decision on my part, to use some of that mileage I’d been storing up, leave New York and fly to somewhat distant locations for a break in my routine. The weekend in Tampa was nothing less than spectacular – platonic, but spectacular, including brunch with a decades ago lover of mine who I Googled and found serendipitously living just a couple of miles from my weekend host. His Mercedes station wagon was a shout out to Send in the Clowns – we missed again: having found me 15 years ago when he was newly re-single and I, in the middle of my marriage, he’s now a very remarried man with a younger wife and second family … “focus on Bond, James, Shaz,” I mutter in my brain halfway through my egg white omelet, extra veggies, no cheese… “He drives a Mercedes coup with the top down: single and ready for the open road… “Which we took to an art museum in a nearby town and an Opera gala where we had our fortunes told… We spent the night out on his balcony, 27 stories high overlooking the bay and lazily woke up for Sunday brunch at a local cafe with his favorite scones pre-ordered to spoil and impress.
I booked more flights … one to the west coast for a long weekend with my son; another to Charleston, SC, to visit my youngest daughter — I checked “yes” to invitations to a wedding in Park City, UT, over July 4th weekend — and a family reunion in Tulsa, OK, on Memorial Day where an OBGYN from Chicago (aka “Doc” whom I met a while ago) made a surprise romantic 21st Century re-entry into my life. He was visiting his old college roommate (a Broadway Producer), considering a move to NYC when we met but had since relocated to Austin. We phone chat every so often and one of those random calls caught me on the Friday night I was in Tulsa. His light bulb flashed in the most adorable way when he realized TX was right there next to OK; he booked a room and hopped a plane to be my date for the family dinner on Saturday night. Didn’t take him long to yummy up to the old aunts and uncles (many from Chicago) who were as impressed with him as I was – a concert pianist on the side, he found a piano and serenaded me with a Bruce Springsteen number before leaving. A few days later he sent me a CD of the original cast album to OKLAHOMA along with a note that read: “We’ll always have Tulsa.”
I needed that break; I needed a jump start back into the life I’m living now… I went for the comfort of familiar faces and, to my surprise, the Universe provided a solid dose of familial warmth with more than a pinch of pure romance.
Buoyed by my out-of-town furlough, I continued uptown to Karen’s for an evening of wine and laughter with her and Paley. Heading home just after dusk, I made my way back over to the bike path, the air cooler now. Entering from up on a hill on W 68th Street, an outdoor movie was in progress: GREASE was playing on a giant screen at the end of a recently refurbished pier, starring John Travolta and featuring hundreds of my neighbors sitting in beach chairs or sprawled out on blankets, actually singing (and in some cases bopping) along to “Summer Nights.” I walked my bike slowly down the hill smiling at the moon and then I paused, catching the lights of New Jersey reflected off the river behind and beyond … friends and families on the bank of the Hudson; New Yorkers out on a beautiful summer night. I realized in that moment that the moment I was in is a very special moment … that there are friends and lovers and a past that was, a future that will be and that this precious moment of singing along with JT is my now. And my now is all I need to feel whole.
NOTE TO SELF: Grease is the word.