City Lights

Sometimes it takes a while to realize that you actually have a pretty good life. Things can get you down, sure, but it’s important to keep seeing the whole picture, not just the center point. Before you start puking all over your wife’s expensive carpet because of my words; let me explain why I’m being so awfully mushy right now.

Yesterday, Nadia surprised me. It was our 10-year anniversary and she had arranged for a great dinner in The Boathouse, one of the restaurants I’d sworn to have dinner at before I died. It was truly amazing. Not just because of the food, but because I was there with Nadia, my lovely wife, Pewter, my son – who actually tried his very best to not throw his food all over the restaurant floor – and my best friend Cookie, who seemingly had some problems sitting beside Pewter for some reason (Pewter needs more practice on the knife and fork thing – Cookie).

Then, another surprise came from Cookie’s side. He arranged for a nightly helicopter ride over Manhattan. It was like one of my wildest dreams came true. Of course, I asked him if he would join us, but unsurprisingly, Cookie generously offered to babysit Pewter for the rest of the night. He’s my best friend, but somehow I suspect that the bottle of 30-year old Scotch in the cabinet at home had something to do with his offer.
Later, in the helicopter, Nadia kissed me softly. “Happy anniversary, honey”. I looked at her, smiled and touched her hand. She smiled back and then excitedly pointed outside, at the helicopter view. Nightfall was setting in and the lights of Manhattan began to appear. It was then that I realized how beautiful the city was. Smog and pollution, crime rates and decadency faded all into nothing. It was the sheer warmth of my wife next to me and the beauty of the nightly lights in the city that never sleeps which made me the happiest man in the world.

The moment did not last long.

I got a call while in the helicopter. Before I moved to the United States, I had a close friend in Europe. We practically grew up together. The call, however, did not come from him, but from his wife. We kept in touch regularly ever since I moved and visited during summer holidays. The last time I had spoken to him was last week. It’s weird how people can change in the course of years.

My friend had killed himself the night before. His widow could barely speak the words, but I knew what she was saying. A few moments later, I still held the cell phone in my shaking hands. Nadia held me and motioned for the pilot to return to the landing platform. It’s weird that something which seems perpetual, like friendship or city lights, can be taken away in one short moment at any given time. I finally answered Nadia’s embrace and kissed her. It was time to go home. We have our own lives to live. Cookie probably needed my help with Pewter anyway.