It is the first real snow of the winter (if you can call two inches that turned to slush "real") and I hop the R train to Bay Ridge to see a girl about a baby. Swaddled against his mother - the friend I met when I was only a few months older than this wee babe - he sleeps. And sleeps. And sleeps.
"Listen," I say, poking him. "I need to see some action here."
"He's sleeping - you can hold him when he wakes up."
Two minutes of slumber later.
"This baby is broken!" I complain. "How do I get a refund?"
Finally, finally, I get my snuggle. A tiny beastie as hot as a furnace against my cold hands. Such a pleasing weight in the crook of my arms. I watch him drift off, dreaming the shadowy dreams of infants.
* * *
Back at home, there is coffee and a handful of anemonies someone should paint. I experience a complete revelation: pot roast. Earthy and savory and laughably easy.
Dinner with friends, the girls watch Sophia Grace and her hype girl do Nicki Minaj as feelings of awe and horror duke it out. The boys hack away at the Christmas tree, feeding the fireplace with dry pine boughs. It feels vaguely disturbing, like something a serial killer might do if he left his Christmas tree too long and couldn't be bothered to take it down five flights of stairs. Staring at the sad empty space where the tree once was, I console myself with an orchid strung with lights. It's Hawaiian Christmas, everybody!!!!
* * *
Morning again. At Cafe Luxumbourg, the girls make eyes at Jon Hamm in the corner but he doesn't know he's in love with us yet. We're not wearing our Mac #7s after all, so what can we expect? We talk about dreams and aspirations and I demonstrate my superior restaurant crying skills with an unexpected outburst that casts a dark pall over the afternoon.
Walking out into a gray, uninspiring day, I call my dad. "Come over," he offers, and I realize it's really the only thing I want to do.
When I arrive, he is shivering on the chaise longue. "I seem to have caught a chill," he chatters, as I quickly fix a tray of tea, Tylenol and baklava. Swaddled in blankets, he is as hot as a furnace against my cold hands.
We chat about Paris after the war, his dinners on Rue du Dragon, whether the Giants will win the playoffs. Sick as he feels, his mere presence cheers me, and I know mine cheers him.
Then, apropos of nothing, he changes the tune.
"I come from a line of diffident underachievers," he says, counting the ways. "If there is something you want to do, you must do it. There are always countless reasons why you can't. But you must."
It is the kind of conversation we never have. His directness fills me with countless questions. So many I can't think of a single one.
"Are you warmer now, Dad?"
"Yes," he says. "I think I am."
Tucking the blankets tighter, I watch him drift off, sleeping the sleep of the just.