There are days when New York feels less like a city and more like a small town. Granted, we both live in neighborhoods, on streets and in buildings, so that small town quality is already quite evident if you tend to stay in a ten block radius of your apartment. I also tend to stay away from areas that are inhabited by people I don’t particularly like. For instance, I avoid going over to 19th and Broadway. If I have to hit up ABC Carpet or Fishs Eddy, I do it during a week day, when I have less of a chance of running into the person I hate who lives on 18th and Broadway. Hopefully, she’s at her day job. I saw her once, while making the mistake of walking down Broadway to return home, but luckily, the “Walk” sign flashed and I crossed the street, managing to avoid her.
I try to avoid the Columbus Circle Whole Foods, as I once ran into a guy I went on a date with, whose nickname was “Wolfman.” And though he was a decent-seeming guy, I spent a large part of the date trying to avoid staring at his excessive amount of arm hair, which made it look like his watch was drowning. Ironically, I saw him in the produce section, where we was checking out the fuzzy-skinned peaches. To add insult to injury, I wasn’t wearing any make-up. I still can’t decide what was worse, seeing a guy you never called back or seeing him on a Sunday afternoon makeup-less, a little hungover and sniffing the flat parsley (just to make sure it wasn’t in fact, cilantro). I had forgotten he lived in that neighborhood, so it remained on my “places to avoid” list for six months.
But it still throws me for a loop when I see people walking in my neighborhood who shouldn’t be there. Today, I was walking down Greenwich Street, headed to Tea & Sympathy to meet an old high school friend I hadn’t seen in nine years. A half-block away from my destination, I ran into my old screenwriting partner from college, who now lives in Los Angeles. I hadn’t seen her in five years. She just happened to be in town for a bridal shower this weekend. While waiting outside the restaurant, a woman walked by me pushing her baby stroller. It was my old college RA, who just moved from Portland, ME to the UWS and was bringing her new son, Owen, for a stroll downtown. Then, I had the requisite celebrity encounter when Kiefer Sutherland showed up for teatime and a fan asked if I wouldn’t mind taking a picture of him with Mr. Sutherland. Click.
After tea, I had to head over to Kate’s Paperie to replenish my stationery. I was too late, the store had just closed. Another woman joined in my dismay as she walked up to the door. When we turned to each other to remark on our “luck,” we realized simultaneously that we knew each other, having worked together five years ago, before she moved back to London. Turns she’s in town for a temporary job with the Tribeca Film Festival. After a brief catch up session, we parted ways.
Walking back home, I was now on the lookout for other people I knew, expecting them to appear around every corner. I sometimes mind the small town atmosphere that comes with living in New York, but at least today I was prepared, I was wearing make-up.