I had a really bad late afternoon today. Just overwhelmed by grief and sobbing. Sometimes I think in a corner of my heart, I truly believe somehow that Summer really will just magically reappear and this nightmare will be over, our life able to resume. When that little piece I hold quietly, secretly falls away, in those moments I truly cannot cope...
I got undressed and turned off the lights and got into bed at 6pm, weeping uncontrollably. I tried to get somebody on the phone. But no one answered. I finally cried myself to sleep. It was still daylight. I woke up an hour later, put on some clothes and went for a walk. Went for beer, if you want to know the truth. I held out all day and what good did it do me, ya know? I'd already gotten completely hysterical stone cold sober. How much worse could it get? Famous last words, I know.
I've been drinking this IPA made in Petaluma. Like everything- like rooting for the Giants, like listening to Bay Area NPR, like buying more UC Davis tshirts, like shopping for a Blue Prius- every thought is trying to reclaim my lost life with Summer. Anyway, this beer, Lagunitas it's called- they're out of it at D'Agostino's. I try Gristedes. No go. Finally, I locate some at the Food Emporium. It's warm but I can stick it the freezer for an hour. Maybe I'll manage to get some writing done while I'm waiting, right?
I step up to the cashier but this very excited lady steps in front of me and asks the girl behind the register, "Where's the bagel place?"
The girl looks up, baffled. Um... "
"You know. Where you get the bagels."
The girl winds up, "Uh, upstairs, I think."
We're in the basement. You have to take an escalator down a flight from 8th Ave to enter the Food Emporium. Very clever. Very cheeky. "Upstairs".
The girl starts ringing me up. The lady isn't going anywhere.
"What place are you looking for?," I ask. Lots of places have bagels".
The lady is happy to continue.
"Oh, you know. For the morning. "
"Well, there's a pretty good diner at 52nd & 8th. They got decent bagels. And really any deli..."
"Is it called the Starshine? Or Starlight? Star-something?”
"Yeah, I think, that's right"
A line is beginning to form behind me. I swipe my card and wait to sign.
"I was really hoping for a bakery, you know? Where they make them fresh".
"Well, there was this great place on the Upper West Side, called H & H. They were the best but they closed last year."
"Oh, NO!", she says dejectedly.
She's starting to feel the eyes of the queue filing up behind her. I scrawl my ridiculous, indecipherable signature with the little black plastic pen on the touchscreen.
"I know. They were there for like 50 years. But hey, any deli is gonna have a decent bagel. And definitely that diner on 52nd in the morning."
"Okay," she says cheering slightly.
"And, hey, you're in New York. You gotta shop around, try a buncha places."
"Thank you", she says smiling and heading toward the escalator.
She's going upstairs. That's where the bagels are, you know…
I grab my plastic bag, turning to the people staring at me.
"Tourist Board", I say.
I walk up the escalator. The excited lady is still there near the door. I stop her.
"Hey," I say, "There is actually a really great bakery at 44th & 9th."
"I'm not sure if they do bagels. But croissants, cupcakes, sandwiches , muffins, everything fresh. It's called Amy's Bread"
"Yeah. And like I said, it's New York. Ya gotta... The Carnegie Delicatessen..."
"Of COURSE!", she says beaming, walking away.
"On 5th...", I call after her carrying home my warm Petaluma beer.
And you cannot tell me that stopping and thinking and helping this woman who is probably in her mid-fifties and maybe on her own and on her way back to her hotel room at the Hilton Garden across the street and just so excited to be in New York and to have a bagel in the morning, you cannot tell me that that did not just happen and that Summer wasn't there for every second of it, because I fucking well feel her. And that little piece in my heart that keeps me safe, that keeps me from completely dissolving into despair, that thing that tells me that she is not gone is somehow right. Because I can feel her in that moment and know I will be with her again. I just have to get through this. And if I do it right and listen closely she will tell me how. Love you, little sweetheart. Love you forever.