i don't remember much of the intervening days between my acceptance of PARK's invitation and new year's eve. i remember i hunkered down to finish the book. i also had to create some sort of christmas for my kids. the real reason i hadn't gone to california was that i would've had to leave them with their father - someone who was mentally, emotionally and physically abusive.
there wasn't much under the tree for the kids that year, but i didn't have to worry that someone was mistreating them.
on new year's eve, i packed them all up in the minivan and drove them to my mother's. the weather was cold but not too cold - the kind that's most difficult to dress for. i decided on overalls. under the overalls i put a t-shirt, a flannel shirt and a sweater. over top i wore my ski jacket. i figured workboots would be the most practical footware.
over a quick cup of tea with my mother, i told her where i'd be.
and what will YOU be doing at the st moritz, my mother inquired.
nothing, i said. im meeting a friend. i remember i pointed to my clothes. do i look like im dressed for a DATE?
my mother narrowed her eyes, assessing the sin factor of my attire. she leaned forward and delivered her fashion kiss of death. you know, she said, those overalls make you look FAT.
i laughed. i don't care what they make me look like, i said. i don't want to be cold.
with such parental endorsement on my appearance ringing in my ears, i drove off white-knuckled into manhattan. i like to drive in most places, but the streets of new york city terrify me.
PARK, however, used to drive a new york city cab in his youth, and so he had thoughtfully provided me with not only directions but lane changes. i was impressed. i appreciate good directions. i like to include things like lane changes myself if i am savvy enough to know about them. (ask me how to get on and off the tappan zee bridge) i remember as i read through them i felt that peculiar ping. it sounded almost like hearing a second instrument playing the same note.
manhattan was mostly gray and cavernous and empty. i turned the corner in front of the hotel and pulled up into a flotilla of mercedes and jags and bmws in the valet parking line. i looked over to my right and there he was, sitting perched on the stone rail, wearing a black leather jacket and jeans. if anything, he looked more dressed up than i did.
he came around to the drivers side of my mommy-mobile and leaned in and did the unthinkable.
HE KISSED MY CHEEK.
and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be!