It was my third or fourth time in New York alone. I had been there as a kid with my parents, once to meet up with a man who was much too old for me, and the other time was the first visit to your apartment. You had been a gracious host - welcoming and warm without letting me feel like I was intruding, over the years of knowing you I would come to admire this quality of yours - the readiness with which you provided shelter for friends and sometimes strangers alike. I didn't know then, but I would come to count on this quality over and over again, without worry or hesitation on my part that I was intruding. You never seemed to mind, instead welcoming me each time I would confirm (via phone or email) I was taking yet another Chinatown bus to see you and to fall in love with the streets of New York.
That night, hungry from the long ride on the hot and smelly bus, you took me to Teany and I was still naive enough to like that it was owned by a celebrity, the faint association with fame excited me. It was crowded and dark, we managed to wrangle a table and we got the sandwich special. It was a perfect night - I felt light, elated, excited for the fun we were about to embark that weekend. We hadn't known each other for long, but I sensed a strange kinship, a feeling that we saw the world in the same light. You impressed me and I wanted to impress you right back.
Five years later and so many things have changed - and yet remained the same. I no longer crash on your couch, instead I am a permanent guest at your best friend's apartment. Our designated cafe is Aroma (as I write this I'm drooling for their Breakfast special), I don't think we ever went back to Teany. And yet that sense of kinship has not wavered but remained strong, my excitement of seeing you and spending time in New York is different yet remains steady. I look back on that night, not remembering a word we said to each other, yet knowing it was a start of something very special that has endured.