Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kissing New York Goodbye

I am a tree. I live in a small town with my family and seldom travel more than 10 miles from home.

Soy californio. I was born in San Francisco, raised in Berkeley, and have lived almost all of my adult life in the Santa Cruz mountains. I've never traveled to the East Coast before, never been further east than Chicago.

My parents, on the other hand, are globe-trotters. They travel much of the year, spending time in France, Italy, Britain, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. They live in San Francisco, but they are often elsewhere.

Several years ago, they decided to become bi-coastal. They clubbed together with some friends and bought an apartment in Manhattan (27th & Madison), with the idea that they'd spend 3 months a year in New York.

My mom on approach to the Brooklyn Bridge

This is how I, a tree with roots on the West Coast, ended up spending a week in New York City.

I went there to visit my parents, who live in San Francisco.

My folks at the Brooklyn tower of the bridge

I went to build memories, to have one perfect week in New York with them while we're all healthy enough to enjoy it. My dad is battling brain cancer, and this might be his last time in New York City.

The dramatic emotional backdrop made it easier to give myself over to the city, to explore whatever it was New York had in store for me.

We had our perfect week, with moments of connection and intimacy, and a string of memories that shine like the lights on the bridges.

My dad and I on a boat tour of Manhattan

I put a crimp in my parents' gastronomic style while I was in New York. I have many food allergies, and I'm working on losing weight. We ate simply most of the time I was in NYC.

On the last night, however, my mom booked us at a fancy restaurant a couple of blocks from the apartment.

Throughout the week, we engaged in a fierce competition for the check. I can sometimes outmaneuver my mother and get to the check, but my dad's a real smoothie. He can nab the check before I realize it's there. Once he's got the check, he never lets go.

So at this fancy restaurant, I was trying to figure out how I'd get the check. The waiter would put it in front of my dad, naturally. This would greatly reduce my chances to pick it up.

As the waiter brought my tea, I got up, cupped my hand to his ear, and said, "Bring me the check. Don't let my dad get it."

My dad saw this and said, "Heather, you shouldn't have done that."

My mom looked delightfully scandalized.

"Heather kissed the waiter!" she squealed happily.

"In a manner of speaking," my dad said.

I asserted my innocence.

"I told him to bring me the check."

I wonder which version of the story my mother will remember.

My folks in Brooklyn

Such a long, long time to be gone and a short time to be there.

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