Wandering Soho, I’d gone into Erin’s store to catch up with her for a minute. There was nothing in particular I wanted to do–I had plans to visit Feifei at her apartment in the lower east side after 8PM. In the mean time, ambiguous wandering. I left Erin’s work and strolled down Prince and cut across Crosby to round back to Spring Street.
Approaching, a man in all black: clothing, boots, slender fit. He wore black Wayfarers and was walking his bike. I narrowed my eyes at him, fingering the fringe on the tassel attached to my bag. We passed each other without recognition. I was fairly certain it was him, that I knew him: the frontman of a band who’d toured Savannah during Savannah Stopover Festival, which I had VIP passes to, back in March.
For four nights, my best friends and I partied continuously (how I operated the restaurant that week, I don’t know), got mixed up with a bunch of the bands. I’d met Daniel out in front of the Jinx the first night. He’s tall and had close talked me, tension between. Although he had invited me to his show, I’d gone instead to see a friend’s play, and missed it. So I’ve never seen him perform. On the last night of the festival, self-imposed restrictions unfurled and we made out like fiends, quite publicly. He wanted to keep in touch, invited me to visit New York. I was going through a break up at the time (or, at the drawn-out end of it), but Daniel and I exchanged hours of texts. Our birthdays, in the middle of March, are days apart, so we used these as reasons to speak.
I did visit, in April. This was the last trip I took before I set forth the actions to move. I did not stay with Daniel–I stayed with Erin, and Daniel made a date. We met at the Ten Bells, where my ex and I had gone for a post-late-night-Balthazar dinner on my birthday the year before. The night I met Daniel in April, I’d had lunch at Balthazar with Erin, but didn’t eat enough. I was so drunk. I’d worn all black, a sheer tank with a black lace slip beneath and tall boots. Daniel, very charming, admitted at the beginning of our date that he’d recently started seeing someone seriously. Then, what the hell are we doing? I thought. Nevertheless. After our date, he led me a block or two over to this fantastic and strange building where he and his band were meeting to record. I’d met most of the guys in Savannah, but one. “Hey Jordan,” I’d cooed. It was drunk and adorable and meant to be a little obnoxious. The one guy I had not met in Savannah–”And where were you?” I’d snapped, and he’d returned this quip with a damn sexy look, and his smile started a banter, which Daniel quickly whisked me away. Although Daniel had called and texted repeatedly later that night, and throughout the rest of the weekend, I didn’t see him again. This was part schematics (he has a girlfriend), part prioritizing (I was staying with Erin for a reason).
But yesterday: I slid over to stand before a shop window (next door to Balthazar), trying to decide if I would fight the crowd at the bar for dinner, or if I would just go back home. Something across the street caught my attention. It was him. He was going into the store across Balthazar but turned around when he saw me. I sidled off of the window and into the crowd, lingering at the edge of Spring Street. Traffic started and stopped.
“Daniel,” I said.
“Yes.” He came over, kissed my cheek.
“A pleasant surprise. I live here now.”
“Culturally astute Murray Hill. I’m happy though.”
“That’s good,” he said. “Are you in school?”
“No. I was managing a bar in Midtown but hated it, so I got out. Now I’m unemployed, but I’ve got great prospects. Probably going to pick up this maitre d’ job in Gramercy.”
“How’s the writing?” He asked.
“Good,” I said. “Slow but good.” I was sort of taken aback. It’s as if he remembered a different version of me–or perhaps I’ve progressed, so quickly.
He told me that he had a friend in LA for a week, sleeping on his couch, and that today was his “day off from that.” He was buying wine glasses. He asked if I still had the same number. I said that I did. I asked how his band was. He said that they’d just finished recording six songs with Peter (a guy who once lived in NYC but now lives in Savannah–I’d coordinated his rehearsal dinner at Garibaldi), and that he’d have to get them online, so I could listen. We said we’d see each other, soon.
Commotion in Soho: generic, just throngs of people. How had we recognized each other so easily? (See, this is a small town.) A little in awe, I texted Erin: Just ran into Daniel, who I went out with in April.
Are you serious? What did he say?
I replied, Yeah. Wanted to know how writing was and if I still had the same number.
Do you think he still has a girlfriend? Erin asked.
No idea! I replied.
“You just ran into him?” Feifei said tonight. We were eating Thai delivery, watching I <3 Huckabees, a movie about coincidence.
“I did. Seems it was the only reason I was down there. You know, I didn’t have anything to do.”
Standing in front of the Jinx the night he kissed me, I had looked and him and thought: he’s a symbol. We had refreshing chemistry, and were so curious about one another. It was the symbol of a new start–that I could break away from the past two years and start a new life and I could move to the city, I knew, and things would be fine. I’m uncertain how he sort of symbolized all of that–likely, he didn’t, but I knew then in Savannah that our attraction was symbolic of my life becoming something bigger, more successful than it was then, relationships and otherwise. When I visited the city in April, after our date, I’d gone into the Whitney just before flying home. After touring the permanent collection, I’d purchased a heavy hardback, The Book of Symbols. Before I moved, before bed, I would read one every night. Currently, the page is marked on Waterfall. “The waterfall itself is an emblem of balance,” the book states. The last entry I read, in Savannah, is Whirlpool. Mentally, emotionally, everything was circling in turmoil then; it seems only now since I’ve moved to New York City that I’ve been set free.
Maybe seeing him was just a coincidence.