‘Nice view, huh?’ he asks, placing my drink on the cardboard coaster.
It’s so hot the flute starts dripping, condensation rolling down its curved base.
‘The best,’ I reply.
‘Where you from?’
I look at the coaster, then up at him.
‘Melbourne, Australia,’ I say, with a smile.
‘Wow, a long way from home. You like New York?’
The coaster is already soggy. This heat is some kind of hell.
‘I love New York,’ I answer, in the kind of tone usually reserved for a person, not a place.
‘I think New York loves you too,’ and he winks, quickly wiping the dew from the marble table, walking away.
I scull half of my drink. I don’t mean to, but this weather calls for more than a simple sip. I fall back into the lounge chair. Cross my legs. Close my eyes. And breathe out deeply. I squint and my eyes open.
I do love New York, I think to myself. I love the way everybody here wants to be somebody. The way they believe they can. I love the boldness of it, and the courage. The audacity, if you will.
I take another swig of my drink. I stare at the towering building across the river, the one that reclaimed the New York skyline after 9/11, the one I have grown to love, so much. I try and work out why it transfixes me. It’s just a building, I scoff to myself. But I can’t deny that every time I catch a glimpse of it, my heart flutters. There’s something about it. Something about the way the light dances off it. From a distance. Something about its boldness. From up close. Something about the way it catches my eye, from so many nooks across the city. I suppose it’s audacious, too.
I lift my glass to finish my drink. The coaster has risen with it, stuck to the base of the flute. It’s sweltering.
‘Another?’ he asks.
‘Absolutely,’ I reply.
He picks up the empty flute. Wipes the beads of water off the table, again.
And I smirk as he places a crisp, new coaster in front of me.