I was supposed to return to Austin on Sunday, but when I received a text from Phil encouraging me to stay in New York, I had to take him up on it. "Encouraging" is the right word. "We all of course miss you and want you here, but we also know how much fun you’re having. So stay a few more days if you’d like." I was relieved. I’d arrived on Wednesday evening, just in time to hit Haru on Park. "Nowhere in Austin would it be this crowded on a Wednesday night." I missed New York the moment I sat in it, and yet It was somehow still as if I’d never left. Come my first full day in New York, I was in back-to-back meetings from Noon to 7:30pm. Bridesmaid dress appointment at Vera Wang (hated everything, and the beautiful bride agreed). It was all heavy and hot satin, and really I only look good in V necklines, but boobies are a problem in a wedding party (even a little church booby), so there will be no Vs. Then off to book-related meetings, followed by another bridesmaid appointment at Jenny Yoo, where the dresses were much lighter (though I was trying on mermaid dresses), and when the fabric was too thin, even in their largest size, it looked horrible on my body. I might as well have been wearing horizontal stripes and the thinnest pale fabric available. Dress shopping can be worse than shopping for a bathing suit, because you know people will actually be looking at you in public. With a bathing suit, there’s always a cover up. You can ease your shorts off while you’re already lying down. There are maneuvers. There is no maneuvering when it comes to bridesmaid dresses. Thankfully sakitinis followed promptly at Kittichai.
The next day began with a manicure and hair blowout (simultaneously!), with a stop at O Magazine! It was really dreamy being there. I can’t elaborate, other than to say I saw Gayle King’s office and a book of plus size models, none of which had a single fat cell to spare. They all looked like Hawaiian Tropic models. It didn’t seem fair, really. They made plus size seem like a real plus. I needed to give this more thought. I headed over to SAKS for lunch, then slipped over to NBC studios for another meeting. It was Friday. There were kids putting in the hallways. It was comforting, and it made me miss office life. Then I finally made it back to Alexandra’s pad, where I crashed until dinner at Islero, where I remained, to my surprise, until 2:30 AM. "I’m only ever up this late if someone poops."
10:30 AM Balthazar brunch on Saturday geared me up for some serious soho shopping with friends. Snow fell, making it all seem magical. They went back to their apartments for naps and showers. We had dinner reservations at 9pm, Spitzer’s Corner. I had to still get my white pizza fix. Ino! There were things to be eaten dammit! I walked to Foley & Corina and finally decided I’d crash at Inoteca for my truffle egg toast and red wine at the bar. While there I managed to bump into four different readers, none of which were actually together. It was lovely really. It made me feel like I was home, which maybe sounds weird, but I always love when people introduce themselves like that. It makes me feel blessed to have this blog, to be able to connect with so many people. I could either head back to Alexandra’s to drop off my purchases (my favorite was a fabric counting stories book from Soho Baby on Elizabeth Street), or I could say fuck it, I’m staying here until dinner. It was 5:30pm. I’d been going strong since 10am. Fuck it, indeed. I ordered another round and invited friends to come join me a bit before dinner.
Dinner was a disaster. Every single item at Spitzer’s Corner was slicked with pork fat. Had I asked for a napkin, surely they’d have slapped on a slice of raw bacon and oinked at me. The mac ‘n’ cheese had a clump of white bacon "lardon" in the center, ribbons of it–what I imagine a tapeworm looks like inside the body. It was appalling. I’d talked up chef Wayne Niche from the time I’d interviewed him when he was working at March, and with what appeared to be the gelatinous lining of human skin on my dinner plate, I regretted ever singing his praises. The pork popcorn was overly paprika’d, to the point where my half of the table was hacking away. Though many would be pressed to notice, as it was hoarse-loud in there, each of us screaming over the other to be heard. But there was something that would make this all worth while: homemade donuts. I’d been sure to order two bags for our party of twelve in advance, because it seemed they were out of the wine I’d ordered, out of the pickles, and–well, I didn’t want to hear they’d be out of donuts by the time dessert came ’round. So when we were presented with brown paper bags spotted with grease, we each inhaled, thinking back to our San Genaro days of zeppoli. I noticed some filling on the edge of mine. It had been injected with cream, I assumed. Everyone else cracked their donuts open and began to lap up their filing. Then the faces of my friends began to squint and tilt, looking at one another for confirmation on what they tasted. "Ew, it’s yeast." The donuts were raw inside and tasted as if they’d been laced with the aroma of barn stall. There was a sting, almost. They brought out some champagne, gratis, but I couldn’t stomach anymore (which says a lot).
Sunday I slept in, then hiked my way to Century 21 where I spent way too many hours and effort for far too few things. I made my way up to Bloomingdale’s Forty Carrots just for the plain yogurt. I felt surrounded by Gossip Girls. I was invited to dinner at Giorgione, a restaurant I adore, but I was fooded out. I went to bed early.
Monday I returned some things to SAKS, purchased more, shipped things tax-free, free-shipping, etc. It was grand. Then I met up with friends, grabbed my white slice, and contemplated picking up a black and white cookie for Phil. "No need," he said, "It’ll just be hard by the time it gets here." I contemplated bagels and decided against it. If anyone wants New York bagels, you order them, via H&H. The shipping is reasonable, and I had enough to schlep. That night, I met friends for dinner at Craft on 19th street, where everything tasted perfectly seasoned, coated, and cooked. We ordered too much dessert. But I didn’t mind at all. I felt as if I’d done what I came to do: I ate New York.
Tuesday morning, I had one last business breakfast meeting at Country (where Philip proposed). And then I was off in a Lincoln towncar. "Wait, can you make one stop?" I headed to Lady M on 78th Street for a slice of bliss. There is nothing better than their crepe cake. Nothing. I’d pay the $75 to ship it here on the next holiday. It’s that good. And then I was back on a flight to Austin, a place I still resist calling home, even if it’s supposed to be. New York will always be home, no matter where I live.