Part 1: London “Honeymoon”
London was exciting. Different but not as different as I feared. A mashup of cultures, but not the same mix as in my native New York. It felt like home, and I liked it.
I did not know why I was wandering around Hyde Park on my first day in town. I did not know why I was in London in the first place. It was to be my honeymoon. Four days in the capital then three in the Lake District. All planned. Until it was not. All the plans were not. I had to pay for a wedding that neither took place nor was affordable. The British Airways tickets were non-refundable and that’s the main reason I was wandering, still jet-lagged, around Hyde Park in the late afternoon of my first day in London. My first trip there. My first trip to Europe.
My name is Eve Young, and I had not been left-at-the-altar. I never got that far. I got to my bachelorette party. That’s where my then-fiancé and now supposed-to-be-current-husband barged in, quite drunk, and told me and my friends that “I can’t go through with it” and left. By the end of the evening, I, significantly more drunk than he had been—though for all I knew he was far more drunk at that moment—was taken home and put to bed by Alice, who sat with me through the night and accompanied me to the bathroom to puke and pee once or twice before I finally drifted into a troubled sleep.
At least he had not decided to use his non-refundable BA ticket. With its assigned seat next to mine. I still had not heard from him. Just third-hand gossip about either “cold feet” or “someone else.” I figured it was the latter since I still had not heard from him. He was gone but, as I walked in Hyde Park, not forgotten.
My unpleasant memories were cut off when I heard the sound of a bell and a shout, the British-understated, “excuse me.” I turned like a stunned deer. I’d wandered to the wrong side of the path and right into the path of a cyclist. “Sorry.”
“Fucking Yanks” erupted from the cyclist as he managed to weave around me. I thought of shouting back but was too weary to get the words out.
It opened the floodgates. Still on the path, I dropped my bag and my body shook with anger and grief and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. And tears. I did not hear the bell of the second cyclist. I did not see her until her bike slid to my left. And then I heard the “arsehole” from this rider as she was falling. It broke me out of my stupor, and I instinctively hurled a “Fuck You” at the woman who was now prone on the path, her bike atop her. I grabbed my bag and walked away.
The woman who fell, Sally as I would later learn, got up, and the cycling traffic resumed. She was glaring in my direction with her now upright bike when I turned. I chased after her as she resumed her ride. “Wait. Wait.”
When I reached her by the side of the path, this fucking Yank said, “Look, I’m really sorry about getting in your way. I’m just having a bad life. Are you okay?”
Assured that she was, I teased: “It’s pronounced ‘asshole’ by the way.”
We were now walking, me talking and Sally rolling her bike, her helmet draped on one handlebar.
* * * *
I thought my apartment was very small. Sally’s was smaller. The presence of a bike did not help. The flat was carved out in a Victorian-era townhouse. “But,” she said, “I can ride to work,” as a mid-level grunt in the British outpost for a U.S. tech firm. She’d let me tell everything as we walked, me in the comfort of a stranger I’d never meet again.
I was a junior associate at a Wall Street law firm. I made good money but had a huge student loan to pay off. I planned to give up my small-but-not-this-small apartment at the end of the month since I gave notice that I’d be moving into my husband’s place on the Upper East Side. Not only did I not have a husband but I’d be without a place to live come the first of the month.
Sally suggested we get takeaway—me comfortable enough to joke, “It’s pronounced ‘take-out’ by the way.” Which had the undesired effect of a “for that, you get to pay” from my host—and we headed out. Returning with our Indian, we sat across from one another with the food and our beers.
We talked. I had not talked in a long time. Even with Alice. It seemed that every non-office communication over the past three-or-four months centered on the wedding. It was not true, but it seemed that way to me. Now it all was gone. I had no idea what I would do or even where I would live but I could talk. Inane chatter to a stranger. I enjoyed it.
Still jet-lagged, I was fading by nine-thirty. Sally walked me to the tube station. As we reached it, Sally put her arms around me and hugged me tightly, receiving a whispered but almost teary “thank you so much” in return. After we separated, I looked into Sally. Before the tears could come she leaned in and placed her lips on mine and then our tongues danced. All of my longing and lust expressed in the next fifteen seconds we shared with one another.
It bursa escort had to end and it did. I turned and reached my hand towards Sally and we exchanged one last flicker of fingers.
* * * *
On the flight home, after a wasted experience in the Lake District, I thought.
Sally was the first woman I’d kissed. I did not watch a movie or pull out my book. I thought.
Part 2: Returning to New York
As I walked with my bag and followed the crowd to Customs, alone, I was numb. A month earlier, I expected this would be a walk to my new life. My new husband. My new apartment. My new family. Perhaps a new perspective on my job. Everything would be new. Perhaps even me.
Instead, I walked through the long hallway with its low ceiling, staring at the bag being pulled ahead of me. Without a husband, apartment, or family. My job would be just as mundane on Monday as it was on the Friday before I headed to England.
It hit me shortly after wheels-up at Heathrow. What I was heading to. And what I was heading from. At some point over the Atlantic, though, the former eclipsed the latter and by the time we landed I was just…numb.
I hoped Alice would meet me after I got my bag and went through the doors that opened to the crowds holding signs or waiting with balloons for family members. I had no close family and I should not have been surprised by Alice’s absence. I was a little pissed though. She could have made the trip. But getting to JFK from midtown in the afternoon is hellish. Still. If she wanted to play it that way, she has to be the one who calls me. Petty, yes, but.
I got a cab to Manhattan. The cabbie tried to engage me in conversation—where are you coming from?/how was your trip?, that sort of thing—but he quickly realized I was a local in no mood so the ride turned quiet.
We turned onto West 85th Street to my brownstone just off Central Park. I would not be here much longer. In anticipation of moving into my husband’s place I’d given notice that I was moving out, and the landlord said she was sorry but she’d already rented it to someone else so I could not stay. It had to be broom-clean in less than two weeks. I had not thought where I’d be then. My brain lacked the room for it.
As the cab slowed in front of my building, I saw Alice sitting on its steps, and after the cabbie got my bag out of the trunk, I paid and thanked him and turned to receive my friend’s extended hug.
“What am I going to do?” The numbness quickly replaced by tearful despair. “What am I—?”
“You’re smart and clever and beautiful. We’ll figure it out.”
With that Alice helped me with my bag as we climbed the two flights to the apartment. She sat in the living room even after I fell asleep on my bed.
She and I met in college. We were good but not best friends. We knew each other more as members of a group from our dorm than anything more. Our relationship was helped by having been brought up in towns about ten miles apart in Westchester County. Alice went to public school. I went to Catholic.
We lost touch after graduation. I went to NYU Law School in Greenwich Village and she started at a bank in midtown Manhattan. We met again at a classmate’s birthday party. We sat next to one another on a sofa. I was in my final, third year of law school, graduating in a couple of months. We had our first true one-on-one conversation since college at that party and I realized how much I missed seeing her. Now we’re, as the foregoing will have told you, best friends.
She was far the more sarcastic and impish of us two. Who always tried to push me out of my comfort zone, with mixed results.
We’d always helped each other with Men Issues. She was in a long-term relationship with Ben, someone she met in college who I vaguely remembered and who I now quite liked, and they and my ex-fiancé often double-dated. After the bachelorette-party blow-up, Alice told me that Ben never really liked the guy anyway. I yelled at her. “He didn’t like him? Why didn’t you tell me?” She said she only found out after the fact, that Ben did not want to rock the boat for me.
Alice, too, expressed post-blow-up reservations about the whole thing, but she also kept it to herself because of how happy she knew I was. And I was happy about it. She still feels awful about not warning me. But I’ve forgiven her. I thought I went in with my eyes open and would not have listened to her no matter what she said.
A little before I was supposed to get married, Alice and Ben moved in together. At that moment, with me fresh from London, Alice was in my living room waiting for me to wake up.
She was there for me for the next months, too. She got engaged to Ben but still made time. They took me out on a few dates with a friend or acquaintance of one or the other of them every couple of weeks or so, but nothing stuck. They were nice, but I probably was in a place where it did not matter. I was not interested escort bursa in a transitional guy, and they were not interested in a woman who was left-at-the-altar. While that was not technically true, it was close enough to the truth to matter. So dinner and a kiss and that was it. I had no interest in sex and no longings to get into bed with someone for the sake of getting into bed with someone.
I took care of myself. My ex really was not very good at it so I became very good at it. Two or three times a week, maybe more, when I got in bed I took my vibrator from the bedside table’s drawer and ran it across myself. Knees up and legs spread, Up-and-down, avoiding my clit at first. Eyes closed; I did not need them for what I was doing. I sometimes ran it across my vagina and across my perineum to my anus, touching only lightly until coming back and putting it in me. I was adept at using my left fingers to rub my clit when it was ready. I enjoyed the vibe in me as my fingers manipulated my clit till I came. It never took very long and I nearly always fell quickly into a deep, satisfying sleep, the toy often left on the bed beside me for the night.
In those moments and increasingly at others, I did not miss the quick in-and-out/thank-you that was the norm with my ex. In those moments and increasingly at others, I was happy to be rid of him and in no hurry to find a replacement. As I said. I took care of myself and I became very good at it.
I had managed to find a place not far from my old apartment. It was in a relatively new apartment building on Columbus Avenue—as opposed to a mid-block brownstone. A few blocks north of where I’d been.
My job still sucked but I was at the point in my career when associates start thinking of moving to a more-permanent job since they won’t, as I would not, be making partner. The idea was to make a lot of money and get enough experience to find a place at a smaller firm or a company. My résumé was up-to-date and in circulation. Job searching was not a concern of my firm. It knew most of those in my year were looking to leave and would help insofar as it could to avoid a logjam of senior associates without partnership prospects.
I had some close calls for getting a new job, but I was still where I was. And ever optimistic.
Sally Abbott’s Email
After a typically long mid-September week, I was tired on Friday when I got home. I’d have some wedding-planning things to do for Alice—I was her maid-of-honor—the next morning but otherwise planned to decompress for the weekend. Go out for a run each morning, perhaps around the Reservoir. It is a way to clear my head, but I do not do it often enough even though I lived only a block from Central Park.
I booted up my computer and opened my personal email. The usual. I was about to delete one from “Sally Abbott,” a name I did not recognize, but since I thought she could be a real person I opened it.
Hi. I hope you are who I think you are. Are you the Eve that I almost hit with my bike in Hyde Park some months ago?
If not, sorry to bother you. If you are, I am coming to new york and I’d like to see you.
Please let me know either way.
Oh my God. I had not thought of her in a while. I’d only seen her for a few hours months ago but I suddenly recalled those pleasant hours in an otherwise disastrous trip I should not have taken.
It was about eight and her email about an hour old when I opened it. It was one or two in London. I figured she’d get my response in the morning.
It is I. Or however you British assholes say it. It is me?
Seriously, I definitely remember you. I’d love to see you. How did you find me?
As I made dinner, I heard an email come in. I rushed to it. I was excited about this. Her again.
We’re “arseholes”. For the record.
I Googled “Beautiful New York Lawyer” and your picture came up.
I clicked it before I realized it was an ad!!!
Seriously, seriously, seriously my mum and auntie are coming with me next month. I’d really like to say hello. Would that work?
And thus began our exchange. They were arriving at JFK on a Saturday a few weeks later and taking the bus to Grand Central. I told her to call when they were on the bus and I’d meet them near the viaduct that goes around Grand Central.
She was hard to miss. Still tall and slim. Still long light-brown hair. Standing with two obviously-English women in their early 50s.
I hugged them all and told them I was thrilled to see them. It was the first time in New York, in the U.S., for all three. They were staying at a hotel near Times Square, and we hopped a cab. I explained that I would be their tour guide for the day and for Sunday. In part it was returning the favor Sally did for me in London. In part it was that I love being a tour guide.
I left Sally’s mum and auntie—I’m going with what Sally called bursa escort bayan them—to recover from their flight and I grabbed a cab with Sally. We headed up to my new apartment.
So much for my charm. She fell asleep on my sofa about twenty minutes after we arrived. I called her hotel and spoke to her groggy mum. I said Sally had crashed on my sofa—translated to fell-asleep-on-my-couch—and asked whether they could take a cab uptown so I could take them to dinner. Assuming Sally ever woke up. She laughed and said they’d be there in about an hour.
By then, Sally was up and embarrassed. I told her she was cute when she snored. She threw a cushion at me. I told her she might have hit me if her national sport did not involve kicking and not throwing. When she got back from peeing, she laughed. “I thought all you New Yorkers had huge apartments.” I wish. I told her I was lucky to have what I had, noting that it was still twice the size of her place.
“Oh, I’m not there anymore. I have a slightly larger flat a bit farther out. I usually have to take the Tube to work. Too far for my bike. Of course, it’s safer. Fewer tourists.” She smiled her nice smile. With that, she took my offered glass of wine, and I told her her mum and auntie would be coming at about 6:30 and we were all going out to dinner. My treat.
We sat next to one another on the sofa. I had to say it.
“I haven’t recovered from that kiss.” I was in part teasing her.
She looked down into her wine.
“I’d never done that.” She was a bit red. “Before or since.”
My God she was pretty.
That kiss. I think it was always somewhere in my brain all the time, but below the surface. I figured it affected me because I was in a bad place and any human contact would affect me the way that kiss did. Still, I gave it no active thought once I’d returned to New York. It was no more than the one good thing, exclamation point, in an otherwise horrible part of my life and I was glad that it and everything about that trip was behind me. Sometimes I did not know if I believed that.
So I told her I liked it simply as her effort to reach out to me in my distress and that it helped me make it through the rest of the trip. She smiled. “Good. That’s what it was for me too.” And that was the last we spoke about it.
Dinner for Four
They could talk. And laugh. The three of them. Gin-and-tonics and they were off. Listing the sights they planned to hit. The usual. Statue of Liberty. Empire State Building. Ground Zero. Central Park. Metropolitan Museum. Chinatown. The subway. It was exhausting just listening.
They were in the city until the following Sunday. I was working Monday through Friday, but I promised to take them around the next day, Sunday, and next Saturday.
I got them to defer the usual tourist-stuff until they were on their own. Except for the subway. I insisted we take the train so we could walk around Greenwich Village. When we arrived, I walked with and talked to Sally as the other two bounced from boutique-to-boutique. Her mum and auntie were not from London. They were northerners. From outside Newcastle. Geordies. They’d only been to London a few times so they still were somewhat awed by the Big-City Experience. They were not yokels but pretty sophisticated, and they loved everything. Sally and I enjoyed their enthusiasm.
On Sunday afternoon we strolled through Central Park. It was a bit warm for October so we bought water now and then. And we stopped a lot. By the time we were done, the three of them caught a cab to their hotel. I met them nearby about an hour later and we had dinner at a somewhat touristy place they’d always wanted to go. I had a blast.
I was able to see Sally alone twice during the week. Tuesday and Thursday. She left her mum and auntie at the hotel and took the subway to see me. She stayed over both those nights. On the sofa. It got too late for her to venture back to the hotel and I had the sofa. We were like college roommates. I had not had someone stay over since the break-up. It was good to have someone for the evening, most of the time spent just talking about this and talking about that.
Speaking of roommates, Alice met the two of us for dinner on Thursday night. Though I asked her not to, she spent a fair amount of time telling stories about me and my ex. Including details of his I’m-outta-here reveal at my party, which Sally found as hysterical as I did not. But Alice was right and eventually I joined in. Well, until she said, “In the end, she said he wasn’t good in bed” which I never said (although as I mentioned earlier it was true) and which garnered a “really?” reply from Sally.
In fact, I think I enjoyed that threesome more than I had enjoyed a night out in a very long time and I regretted that it had to end. But end it did.
On Saturday the four of us walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was crazy crowded but they wanted to do it and get the pictures. We got sandwiches and water and enjoyed the view across New York Harbor from Brooklyn. You would think being exhausted would quiet Sally’s mum and auntie. You would be wrong. On the other hand, Sally and I sat quietly one bench over, in wonderment at the other two.