New York, Upper East Side

There’s a party in progress when we push open the door to the apartment. Three young men come to the door, stare blankly at me and then retreat to the kitchen. Pretty soon, my 18-year-old nephew, soon to be a freshman at Johns Hopkins, comes stumbling out.

“Oh, hi!” he says. “I didn’t know you were coming…

It’s 11:30 PM on a Saturday night in New York. The 18-year-old’s parents left for Turkey earlier that evening. I arrived from California at his parents’ invitation. Come and stay for a while, they said. It’s been a few years since you’ve been here. The subtext to all this is that the 18-year-old would have been alone in the apartment for two weeks if I hadn’t come. And you KNOW, you just KNOW what happens when an 18-year-old in New York has the apartment all to himself–

Thank goodness I have my son with me, but my son doesn’t want to stay in the apartment. He’s in college himself, he says it wouldn’t be “cool.” So, at 11:30 PM, we deposit our bags and head out again, walking towards Second Avenue.

The plane ride was long and they didn’t serve any food. We couldn’t take any liquids on board and I had to stash my lipstick in my checked-in luggage so I arrived in New York with my lips chapped. But, other than that, the whole airport experience– just two days after Britain announced they had foiled a plot to blow up 10 airplanes headed from Heathrow to America— wasn’t that bad. The security people at the San Francisco Airport seemed relaxed. They cooed over passengers’ babies. No one told my son to empty his pockets. It was cool.

So, we’re in New York, and it’s close to midnight, and we’re walking towards Second Avenue. Here and there are groups of people– doormen chatting, women out walking their dogs, an occasional group of teenagers. Some doorways have couples huddled on the front step, seemingly in deep conversation. This is all so different from Redwood City.

The waitress at Wasabi Lobby on the corner of 2nd and 82nd asks if we are Filipino. I say yes and she says, I have many, many Filipino friends. One man in particular, he was old, he was like a father to me…

Which left me to contemplate this fatherly Filipino man who, she said, had seven children and lived in New Jersey.

We get back, the party’s loud, loud, loud. I am the only adult in the vicinity, but I close the door to my room and let them drink, drink, drink the night away.

You’re only young once.

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