It's a clear and chilly Autumn day. I'm walking down a road flanked on both sides by trees that had lost all their leaves for the season. I hear a slight fluttering and before I can turn my head a flock of a dozen red cardinals swoop down around me, engulfing me in a torrent of vibrant red. Fascinated, I follow their aerial path to see them land on a branch a few feet away. Wanting to capture the magnificence of the sight I pull out my phone and try to focus the camera on the flock when they soar into the air again and circle about before landing on a branch behind me. I whirl around, determined to fossilize this moment in a photograph but the flock escapes me again, swirling playfully in formation. Defeated, I stand there and absorb their beauty as they twitter and chirp, cloaking their branch in the vibrancy of their feathers....
This dream stayed with me all week, saturated with symbolism and imagery yet, I could not accurately identify its message.
Disheartened again from a failed second trial with a man that probably would not have successfully made me happy in the long run, I spent the past few days doing what every woman in my situation would do: Shop until my arms were too tired to swipe my credit cards. With a brand new wardrobe and collection of shoes to show off, I decided not only to carpe diem but the entire fall season as well. The world was my oyster and I was going to cash in on some serious living. In New York City, some of the best things that fall has to offer are outdoors seating areas in the city's vast sea of restaurants. Aside from conquering boutiques throughout the city, one can fill almost any void with a healthy serving of soul-soothing southern Italian cuisine at Angelo's of Mulberry Street. And it certainly didn't take much persuasion to gather my team of girlfriends for a night out starting with our favorite Neapolitan dishes in Little Italy.
I have always been a firm believer that those who say the have a zest for life must show equal passion in all areas of that life; the passion they show for food should be the same they show for romantic endeavors. After all, what is there left to live for aside from great food and great love? The man or woman with a plentiful dining room table will offer the same abundance in the bedroom and in their daily perspectives. Luckily for us, Angelo's agrees. And it seemed that most of the dining guests did as well, by the grand show of warm welcomes and attention paid upon our arrival. While it may take a little more inflection and soul-searching to heal a wounded heart, it's not so hard to find a nice little Band-Aid for the meantime. Here, I had found my Band-Aid.
Before the matire d' could seat us we had a round of shots delivered to our table. Stage one: the self-esteem booster. "Why aren't women like you out with your men tonight?" A fellow patron inquired flirtatiously, with his dimples flashing. Hmm, I thought to myself, probably because the majority of men we find ourselves involved with are too distracted with their childish intrigues to know a substantial female when they're looking them in the eye, asking, "Why is it such a big deal if I don't call you for nine days?"
Our decadent dishes arrived piping hot, accompanied by a round of cocktails compliments of the San Diego Fire Department seated two tables away, in town to commemorate their east coast colleagues and, apparently, admiring east coast women. Stage two: affirmation. So I wasn't an unattractive, boring being after all. It clearly couldn't have been me that was the problematic party in the relationship. As a table of intelligent, independent, and successful women in our late twenties, we caught up on recent gossip and shared our trials and tribulations in love, friendship and our careers.
We were all searching for the same thing: consistency, chivalry, laughter and the freedom to be the women we wanted to be but, more often than not, we were left without. To cope, we all too eagerly project our desires upon our current partners who, at that point, begin to serve merely as blank canvases for us to paint our needs unto. Our weekday stresses slowly dissipated as our grilled smoked buffalo mozzarella melted in our mouths. We washed the flavors down with imported Falanghina Davnia and in the midst of these like-minded females I admired, life was suddenly a little easier to swallow. I realized I wasn't always alone in my plight as I am so willing to believe.
As we pondered whether our gluttony deserved punishment or dessert, I spied a man awkwardly making his way towards our table in the banquet area. Hastily pushing past the wait staff and other diners, he had the look of recklessness on him, a man with nothing to lose. This is an attribute that can easily redeem or a destroy a man with dignity. I recognized him immediately as the out-of-owner who so brazenly approached us by the host stand and interrupted our conversation not once but twice for the mere possibility of scoring an admirer out of us for his lack of both charm and wit. Most unfortunate. All this without regard for social graces, as he left his own dinner party at their sidewalk table wondering what could be so unfortunate about their company. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that we struck up a friendly banter with our neighboring table of firemen, pairing off for dessert drinks, he dodged the crowd and with even less magnetism than I could have ever imagined, knelt down next to my girlfriend and asked for her number should she want to entertain a night with him before his flight back to Austin, Texas.
Stage three: acceptance. With disgust splattered on my face, and my general distaste for classlessness inducing the gag reflex, I threw back the rest of my drink and snorted as he lumbered away, hands in his pockets, without a clue in the universe as to why his offer was declined. I now understand and accept that there are many people, most classified under the male race, who will choose to remain oblivious. They will choose ignorance because this will allow them to act as they please, as their id instructs them to, without a speckle of consideration or thoughts of consequence. This is the un-evolved man. This is the man between the ages of 21 and 36 that runs rampant throughout the city puzzling and horrifying women with their tactlessness.
With a world of opportunity available to us, we expressed our gratitude to our admirers and the wait staff and made our graceful exit to conquer the night ahead. We headed to the Meatpacking District, also known as the one pocket of Manhattan where I feel most at home, eased by the beautiful people and the air of endless adventures to be had. As we entered Ajna Bar, formerly Buddha Bar, the interior decor transformed my mood into tangible forms. We flocked in through their catacomb-like hallways guarded by statues seemingly representing Buddha's soldiers. It was as if I was walking through a portal carrying the energy from my epiphanies and about to release them out in the world, painting a picture for all to see and declaring, "This is me, I have arrived."
And with that, the main room illuminated in a pulsing red with glowing embers across the ceilings, welcoming us into the belly of nightlife. With my Mango Caipirinha in hand, and looking behind me as my girlfriends' smiling faces followed, I thought of how well received we were, where ever we chose to show up. Friendship is about complementing one another. The same can be said of love. Birds of a feather, as they say. I found solace in this, knowing that while we suffer the same things, and hope for the same things, we are capable of propelling ourselves forward because we have achieved distinction thus far in life.
In the midst of my elation, and through the blurs of sequined dresses, champagne glasses, and camera flashes, I found the one. It was bold, it was bulbous, stoic and resonating with command. It was the most seductive watch I had ever laid eyes on, and it was attached to the wrist of a man humored by my wide-eyed and carnal fascination over how well he wore it. Accessorizing has very little to do with trends and so much more to do with one's transparency and one's confidence at expressing a statement of self. It is an outlet for one to wear a piece of their inner self on the exterior. Much more significant than "decorating", your accessories allow you to project your voice without speaking. Your clothes, shoes, cars, houses, and the company you keep are all accessories through which you can reflect what you admire in life and at the same time attract what you desire from life. This watch spoke for the man and it said, simply, "I can do great things." Like a peacock, he had flashed his plumage. Speechless and lusting, I realized I had a very high risk of sounding incoherent. While high risks do yield large rewards, I opted to save the gamble for financial investments instead.
With my dream cardinals constantly fluttering in the back of my mind, I found my thoughts during the day clouded with brightly colored feathers. Revived by our "girls night out," I reveled in the success of the night and found myself desperately analyzing the symbolism of my lovely, haunting dream. These red cardinals are a reminder of passion, warmth and vibrancy. Could it be that my jaded perspective on romance in the city inspired this dream of love? Love reflected as a fleeting mystery for me in my present circumstance; something beautiful that can't be plucked and captured before it is carefully observed and appreciated?
Perhaps, between my thirst for affection and certainty in this extravagant fishbowl of a metropolis, and my loathing for the growing epidemic of male recklessness, I should seek a more balanced perspective on romance before being able to attract birds of a similar feather. Perhaps the mystery man and his watch embodied my dream cardinal, beckoning a chase, but, a chase for what? Will it be something for me to have and to hold? I continued with my state of reflection while enjoying a solitary brunch at the Cupping Room Cafe. Through Soho's daily symphony of car horns and pedestrian vocals, I could hear a fluttering ever so slightly. I didn't turn my head but, in case the bird was hinting, I kept my eyes peeled for powerful watches on boldly adorned wrists.