Little Branch

Saturday was beautiful, but windy.  Which, when I say it out loud, always makes me think of that song by The Association.  I am probably the only person under 50 to make that…association.

No pun intended.

We went to Union Square, to the Greenmarket, then to run errands.  Notice I say “we.”  It is as if I am not a “me” without being a “we.”  There are always people in my life — people coming and people going; guests and friends and partners.  It is as if I learned how to open my heart up a little, and now I can’t get enough of having other people in my life.

That, or I’m simply afraid of being alone.

Which, all things considered, isn’t likely the case.

I think, after being along as long as I was (in both the physical and psychological senses), I realized I just didn’t like it.  Didn’t like the solitude and…loneliness.  Didn’t like echo of my own voice in my ears; my own voice alone.

I am enough, on my own, I realized.  And once that revelation had been reached, I was free to build upon a good enough foundation.

So.

We went to Union Square.  The morning’s thundershowers had been hard and fast, but by early afternoon, the pavement was already dry.  The wind had picked up and the sky was that early-January kind of blue.  Not robin’s egg; not cerulean, but literally January Blue.  Hard, clear, unforgiving blue — what modern kids might call “Hi Def.”

I love Union Square.  It’s almost like a shopping mall; it’s the sort of place in Manhattan where anything one might need is exactly at one’s fingertips.

Union Square: afternoons in the Greenmarket listening to the hipsters and the yupsters and the drug addicts mingle; mornings hurring through the Square on the way to an appointment in the Twenties; Bikram in the teens; summer days drinking coconut water on westfacing benches and risking sunburns…

But Saturday was windy as hell.  Sitting on the steps, facing out on to the South and to the Whole Foods storefront, we turned to watch the branches falling from some of the trees as the wind rocked the city.

Crack; snap; swoosh

Boughs on the ground; passersby unscathed.

Do you want to go?  It’s getting colder; it’s getting nasty.

Yeah, let’s go.

Taxi?  Subway?

Let’s walk.

Walk 60 blocks?

I nodded firmly.  60 blocks on foot it was going to be.

We walked north from the Square, leaving the grounded branches in our wake.  Walked, walked, walked, north up Park Avenue; up, up, up.

Back to my UES apartment, where we crashed, exhausted, wind howling outside.

A little while later, we put ourselves together, and headed out to an evening on the town.  Downtown birthday parties at a cupcake place; then to Little Branch — a classic cocktail bar in the West Village.  A hip place — a hipstery place.  The sort of place with no signage.  One simply needed to be cool enough to know about it, and know well enough to find the address or the line.

We stood outside, shivering in the cold, waiting for entry to the basement venue.

One cash-only drink later and we were ready to go.  The drinks were good; the bar was cool. 

I wonder, sometimes, how long my cool days will last.  When the expiration date on “cool” will come.  Now that I am no longer a hedge fund lawyer’s wife; now that the lease on the Jag is coming up, the divorce is almost final; now that I no longer have season opera tickets or season anything tickets.  I wonder if one needs conspicuous consumption to be cool in New York, or if cool is something that comes from another place.

I wonder if cool grows from within.

We left Little Branch and went back into the cold springtime night.  Branches down all around: boughs, tumbling, turning, falling down.  Leaves on the street and sidewalk.  Showers of green all around us — signs of new life everywhere.

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