It was early November when her sister asked.
For the first time in months, Mary was talking to Hannah over the phone. They texted each other, and there were emails here and there. But phone calls in the past few years, not so much.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” Hannah said, “I’m having a party on New Year’s Eve. You should come!”
Mary’s heart sank. Her sister loved to throw parties and her parties were great. The two of them badly needed more quality time — actual, IRL, face time — and going to Hannah’s New Year’s Eve party would show her sister just how much Mary loved her, how she was willing to make the effort for the relationship.
But it would mean she would have to go to New York City for New Year’s Eve. It meant she’d have to go to New York City in winter. It meant she’d have to go to New York City, period.
“I’m in,” Mary said, “absolutely.” She rubbed her eyes and logged onto Southwest.com.
As the taxi inched its way toward the hotel, Mary’s friend Nick pressed his face up to the window, steaming it with his breath, then wiping off the condensation so as to clear his view. This was his first time in the city and it was nice to see him take it all in. The best way to be in New York City is to be there the first time ever or to have been there for over 10 years. Anywhere in between, Mary thought, and it’s too hard.
She would know; she tried living in New York City once. Love and curiosity were her reasons for trying it on. But when love went all wrong and she realized she had no feeling for the impossible, endless city, living in New York was excruciating. The cards were stacked against her from the start, though; a person shouldn’t move to New York at age 36. It’s a young man’s town.
“It looks like Chicago,” Nick said. “I mean, I see a lot of similarities.”
“That true, there are,” Mary said, and glanced out the window herself. “But it’s nearly dark out. It’ll look different to you in the daytime, I bet.”
As Nick took in the scene and laughed at just how close the taxi was coming to the delivery trucks and the pedestrians, Mary pulled her coat tighter around her shoulders and pressed her back into the seat. She let her head fall back a little, though she would be careful not to let Nick see her so weary. When the man you’re dating is a decade your junior, you’re forced to remain peppy and energized at all times. It’s a good thing, on balance — and most of the time, Mary didn’t need to fake it — but New York took it out of her.
Young man’s town.
In the morning, she crept out of bed so as not to disturb Nick, angelic and gorgeous nestled under the down comforter and hotel linen. The outrageously expensive Peninsula for two nights was her Christmas gift to the two of them and she forced herself to forget just how much she spent. When the credit card bill arrived, she would not look. Standing on the heated floor in the generous bathroom, though, as she gave her hair a quick brush, Mary knew the room was worth every penny. All 96 billion of them.
She pulled on a jumpsuit and threw a sweater around her shoulders. Flip-flops would be fine; she was only after coffee and some writing time down in the lounge. Without turning on any more lights, she grabbed her briefcase and her phone and slipped out the door. Nick hadn’t even stirred.
Down in the lounge, she was alone and so, so glad. It would be the only time all day — and all night — that would happen.
She felt sad. It’s hard to know so much, hard to have failures and be reminded of them. The New York chapter, and Washington D.C. after that, was tough. No doubt about that, now, looking back. Oh, she kept her chin up through it all. And there were small victories. But overall, it cost her dearly in energy and innocence. It was death by a thousand papercuts, that era.
Mary looked out the tall window at the dusting of snow on the street. The news said tonight would be New York’s coldest New Year’s Eve since the 1960s. The dress and heels she brought were more suited for a spring night, even if she stayed inside the party most of the evening. Mary sighed and decided she’d have to go in search of a jacket before tonight. As usual, New York would insist she spend more money before she left.
It was getting late. She needed to pack up and get up to the room so that she and Nick could get a reasonable start to the day. He wanted to see Central Park and there was a quilt exhibit at the Folk Art Museum for her, thank God. Quilts would surely help.
A loud group entered the lounge, laughing and talking about work. Mary gathered her things, grateful again for the peace she was afforded this morning. She smiled at the group as she left, and as she threw her coffee cup in the trash near the bar, two more couples came in.
It’s so hard to be in place where you know you don’t belong, she thought, especially when the place is considered the center of the world. Guess I don’t belong in the center of the world, Mary thought, and made her way to the elevators.
[Maybe to be continued? I don’t know. I don’t write fiction.]
Happy New Year!
I like it and want to know what happened next!
Loved reading this story. You have a way of making us feel like we are there. Keep writing!
Please continue. I loved it!
Awaiting next chapter!!
When I want to know more, and am wondering if this isn’t autobiographical, then you have nailed it. Definitely to be continued! Happy Happy new year and may you have good health and much happiness in your life this year. ❤️
Please continue. I love your writing. Yesterday I recognized your writing without seeing your byline. I was reading the new issue of Quiltfolk, a lovely story about Pam Weeks and the NEQM, when I looked up to see who wrote the article. I had said to myself this is Mary Fons’writing. .And sure enough it was. And to my pleasure there are several more pieces in the issue penned by you. Thank you.
Love it. Great job, but I too want the rest of the story!
So is Nick the Delbert guy in your building?
Delivery guy! I hate auto correct
I love your writing! Definitely needs to be continued.
Well if Santa had bought that coat that Mary so desired a short while ago, Mary wouldn’t have had to go looking for something a tad warmer!
Good story so far. I think Mary is going to have a very Happy New Year! Because everyone loves happy endings.
Really good! Keep writing! I’ll will certainly buy your book.
Happy New Year Mary. I have been following your blog most every day since you were in Madison in September. I feel like I have almost made a new best friend. I especially loved the pieces about the coat, which I wanted to comment about but was hesitant to jump in. I think you can make or have made an even more perfect quilted coat someday. You really should have one, you can carry it off so well.
One of my other favs was when you mentioned meeting some one younger, I wanted to say jump in. So I am assuming that is what you did. You go girl! It’s only a number.
Happy New Year, Mary! Hope it will bring all that you need, and wish for! Love your site, and reading all your writings. Thanks!
Oregon is a beautiful state. You might try coming here, instead of New York or Chicago! I’d love to get to meet you! Brenda
Your a natural. Keep it up. Happy new year
I love it….want to know what happens next. But, it makes me sad for you somehow. I don’t think you really wanted to
spend New Year’s Eve in the Big Apple!
I want to hear more,.
I think you have book potential in you.
Please write the next chapter and post it tomorrow! I’m hooked…..
Mary please, please continue. This is a story I need to hear.
Please continue!! I’m hooked
Well done! I’m looking forward to the next chapter.
My hope is that the rest of the story is not so glum as the opening scenes, which sound like you need a big hug, a fantastic jacket find, and a fun heart-to-heart with your sister. Best wishes for a happy new year.
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I really like your style of writing. I wish you happy andHEALT HY new year. I start a new quilt every New Year’s Day.
With a plan to finishing it before the end. Not doing enough finishing. Hope you come back to Madison soon,
If you don’t continue this, you may have a revolution on your hands.
I want to continue reading this “book” Mary. It could be a new best seller. You are very talented.
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