My plane touches down, unusually on time into LaGuardia. We deplane and intrinsically my Minnesota nice persona falls away and I blend into Manhattan. I speed walk through the terminal, my rolling bag follows faithfully. I know how many steps away I am from passing the slow couple in front of me. I can read body language and tell if someone is going to dart, left or right at the last minute. I know better than to make eye contact. I have been to New Delhi enough times to know how to handle myself in big cities.
I am half way out of Terminal D, en route to the taxi stand, when the CNN report blaring on the TV monitor in Gate 5 stops me. The image of smoke billowing out of a tall Upper East Side building stops me. Fear paralyzes me. Terrorists are my first thought. My heart tightens. Then the reporter says a New York Yankee crashed his Cessna into an Upper East Side building.
In that moment all my confidence evaporates and I think about returning to Gate 10 and asking about the next flight to Minneapolis. At half past five, in the middle of October maybe God was telling me I was not the type of girl to move to a super-sized city where athletes crash air crafts into high-rises.
My phone is ringing and I scramble to pick it up. It is Jack, Jane’s boyfriend. If I ever become a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, he is the going to be my Phone-A-Friend. Not only is he funny, he knows everything.
“Hey, do you need directions?”
“Nope.” I had been to their place several years ago.
“Great see you soon.”
It was too late for return flights. Destiny was already charting the next course.
* * *
Later that evening Jane and I are lounging in the living room of on their 900 square foot Inwood apartment. Lenny, the extremely overweight cat with eyes the same color as the green couch, skulks around, sniffs at my purse and then disappears into the closet. When he returns he seems disappointed to find me drinking wine with Jane. Because Jane and I are naturally loud women, wine only amplifies us. This is why Jack can sit in the bedroom and work on this comedy sketches and not miss a word of the conversation.
“We took this apartment sight unseen,” Jane says and runs her free hand through her long, wavy brown hair with highlights. “So we didn’t need a broker. You will. So be prepared to pay 15% of your annual rent as his fee.”
“Remember to stay west of Broadway up here,” Jack says as he enters the living room. “I mean it, stay west of Broadway.”
“Okay,” I say.
“Are you ready to live in a shoebox?” Jack asks.
“It’s better than living in a place where people ask ‘dot or feather’ when I say I am Indian.”