I remember an episode of "Sex & The City" when Carrie, still coming to terms with the painful end of two significant relationships and adjusting to the single life, realises that New York is in fact her true love ... the main character in her life and the infatuation that will never fade.
This has never felt more true to me than now as I must admit that my love for gorgeous, fast-paced, complicated New York has been inextricably linked to my irrational infatuation for an equally gorgeous, fast-paced, complicated New Yorker and I have struggled to separate the two in my mind until fairly recently.
But another perfect New York weekend further helped me to come to the same revelation as Carrie.
My friend Mario was in New York for business a few weeks back and stayed with me. Late on Saturday morning, we walked to the Natural History Museum to have brunch at Ocean Grill, one of my favourite neighbourhood spots, where we sat at my usual corner banquette in the bar area (which I prefer to the main restaurant) and had deliciously lemony lobster eggs Benedict and bottomless coffee while catching up on the latest events in our lives.
We hopped on the subway to the Lower East Side as Mario works in fashion and I wanted to show him all the small vintage boutiques scattered in the area. In between shops, we stopped at Economy Candy on Rivington to pick up retro, wacky sweets and then leisurely strolled through Chinatown and its weird & wonderful food items (dried oysters anyone?), weaved through the fake goods of Canal Street and cut through Little Italy before arriving in Soho. After a quick pit stop at Lure for a blueberry gin (for me) and a passion fruit caipirinha (for him), we felt saintly for getting one of our five portions of fruits & vegetables in a single cocktail and proceeded to Williamsburg in Brooklyn, where Erickson (Mario's old flatmate, who also works in fashion) had invited us for a cocktail party at his apartment.
We met Larry for dinner at Sea first, a Thai restaurant with an impressive interior - huge industrial space with candle lit indoor pool, imposing sculpture of Buddha and swing bubble chairs scattered around. By the time we left, it was packed and the atmosphere was more that of a club than a restaurant, with booming music and crowds waiting to get in. Erickson's apartment was an amazing split-level affair which makes you realise how much more you get for your money in Brooklyn. The view from his terrace was of the glittering Manhattan skyline and we made full use of his telescope to get close up views of the Empire State and the Chrystler buildings ... and to catch glimpses of his unsuspecting neighbours of course!
We ended the night at a club called Sugarland and much fun was had between chatting to a guy dressed as an angel and cutting impressive shapes to Madonna's "Vogue" - she would have been proud of us.
On Sunday, we met Erickson for brunch at the Pink Pony, an eclectically decorated bistro on the Lower East Side. A delicious Nova Scotia salmon omelette and a "why not" glass of Champagne later, we walked all the way to the West Village and the Meat Packing district for more shopping. We stopped at Patricia Field's* store on Bowery and marveled at all the crazy 80s clothes and accessories. As Mario was trying on a pair of tight gold shiny trousers (which he subsequently bought), Erickson pointed to Patricia herself, chain-smoking in the tiny salon at the back of the boutique, while having her bright red hair crimped.
It was one of these perfect days when the sun is shining brightly yet the air is cool and crisp. The kind of day when New York seems to deliberately stage itself to its best ... The city seemed about to burst with energy and happiness, every green patches of grass full of people enjoying the weather. New Yorkers were singing to themselves in the streets without any trace of self-consciousness. 80s style kids sported boom boxes and brightly coloured fluorescent trainers with matching caps. The street performers and market stall holders were back, marking the beginning of the more clement season. The prospect of the hot summer days seemed so close and a sense of hope and longing filled the air.
Men will come and go ... but the cities, the sights, the sounds, the experiences and the friendships they bring with them will stay forever.
* For the straight male readers: Patricia Field is the stylist for "Sex & The City".