What you ask for
When I first told PJS that I thought I might want to stay in New York for a while, she chalked it up to Stockholm Syndrome. I laughed about that. But there are days here where I wonder if that is true. My life here is pretty silly, to be sure. And yet it does not give me quite the pleasure that I would expect such a silly life to deliver.
I get restless and dissatisfied, cranky, tired and bummed out, lost, overwhelmed, and lonely, so so lonely. This would be true anywhere, I am sure but while here, I can conveniently blame it on this place. People in response to my belly aching often ask, Why do I stay? What am I waiting for? Questions that I ask myself at least as often.
I thought I was waiting to get successful. I was waiting to prove my worth to myself and the world. I thought I was waiting to come into my own, to find myself, to find my purpose, my calling. I thought I was waiting to crack the code of this city and conquer it. I thought I was waiting to fall in love with someone or some idea or something. Or some such clichee. But actually none of that is true.
I was waiting for two things:
1. To have the greatest meal of my life.
Now, I have to say that I have actually had the greatest meal of my life six times in this city. But tonight was the first time that plates of food inspired in me a love for the universe and a singular passion for the chef. The pork buns at Momofuku are love, plain and simple. Our party of six proposed to him right after the appetizers were served. It will be a small private ceremony. A simple affair, with a few members of our immediate families present.
2. To be in the presence of someone famous who I like and greatly admire.
We were sitting there and WC's friend J pointed to a gentleman at another table and said, "I think that man over there is famous. He looks like the kind of person who does a show on PBS, like Charlie Rose." I carefully turned to look and it was Charlie Rose. (!!!!) Charlie Rose!!!!!
We finished our meal and went out and I tried to steal another look at him but didn't manage it. There were too many people obscuring my view.
Our dinner party was milling around outside. Some of us smoking, all of us chatting and watching the rain, when who should leave the restaurant, but the man himself. J exchanged pleasantries with him. Some girls came up and asked to have their picture taken with him and he agreed. He has a great smile. He was so affable, so warm. The charm he projects in person is magnitudes beyond what you get off the screen, if you can imagine.
I cannot speak to famous people whom I admire. Even quasi-famous local people. I get super shy. I am a blathering idiot. It's terrible. So I don't even try. Everyone laughed at me and teased me for not talking to him. But I couldn't, I just smiled.
The thing about living in New York is that there is always so much going on. And I always have this feeling that I am missing something. I have not seen everything, met the key people, nor accomplished much. "I'm not internationally known" or "known to rock microphone." I have not been to all the cool bars, I have not had the best meals, or worn the best clothes, I have not seen Ellis Island or been on the Staten Island Ferry.
But as he walked off I felt like what I have seen and experienced is enough. I had seen everything I needed to see here. I have had the greatest meal of my life and I have been in spitting distance of a famous person who I respect and admire. And he seemed very much in person as he was on TV. I could leave without regret.
Of course, if tomorrow I run into Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, Peter Gabriel and Travis Morrison and they invite me to join them for beer and popcorn, I am not going to sniff at that. Nor have I packed my bags to leave.
Here's the funny thing. On Wednesday, I was out with History Guy and in the course of conversation with him I said: 1. I was surprised at how rare it was for me to have an incredible meal in New York. 2. I said that the two people in all the world who I wanted to meet were Malcolm Gladwell and Charlie Rose.