It is the beginning of October in New York and the city is getting cold. Those who can afford to are bundled up in hats and scarves and warm winter clothes and others find refuge in hot subway stations and ratty, oversized sweatshirts.
I’m sitting inside Kahve Coffee on Ninth Avenue watching the rush hour traffic inch by. It’s times like these when I miss home the most; times when loneliness, like the cold, creeps up on me and doesn’t leave.
I am looking at a picture that nana sent me a year ago. I don’t remember when it was taken. My brother, sister and I are standing in her garden, posing in front of bright pink bougainvilleas. I don’t see the flowers in the photograph, but I know they are there. All of us are wearing orange shirts, whether by coincidence or design I don’t remember. Nangi’s smile is easy and uncaring. My brother’s eyes are deep and green and thoughtful. He is looking at someone outside the frame, probably our nanny, Podi. And there’s me: holding David in my arms, smiling big and bright so that mama could get a good picture. It was warm outside. It was always warm outside.
I wonder if I will ever rid this nostalgia or if it, like regret, will always make an appearance when I smell my mother’s perfume on a stranger on the subway or hear a song I used to dance to with papa or feel sand between my toes at a beach in the Hamptons. I wonder whether I’ll ever fully understand that “other” life I had, where the sun always shone and my only worry was finding a way to have my cousins over everyday.
I decide I am spending too much time thinking about this and return to my Mocha. Zach looks up at me from across the tiny table.
“What are you thinking about, babe?”
“Nothing,” I say, picking up my phone and standing up. “Are you ready to leave?”