That something extraordinary might happen any minute, any day, any month is the peculiar sense you feel in New York, writes Joan Didion.
It happened to my friend Myra on her first trip there. “I just had a sense when you and I were at the Writers’ Festival that I wasn’t through with New York, that one day I was going to be living here,” she told me recently.
Had she said this six years ago when we were in NYC listening to Jonathan Franzen and Patti Smith, my hesitant response would have been, “You never know.”
Where were we this May? Standing up for Myra I was, waiting for the wedding ceremony to begin in the Park & Irving Room in New York’s Union Square Café.
Though it feels like we’ve known each other forever, I can hardly call Myra a friend of my youth. We met a little before Giuliani was elected mayor of New York when Myra was a mere thirty-two and I, eleven years older. A mutual friend had nominated us to the board of Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary, where we both lived.
I liked her immediately. My work life was frustrating, I missed our daughter Lynn who had gone away to university in Toronto, and I felt the need for more women friends. So I invited Myra for a drink. At a board meeting a few months later, she whispered, “I’d like to talk to you about something when this is over.” It was Myra’s brilliant idea for us to form Perspectives MGM Inc.
It was the time of our lives, beginning with our opening party. We didn’t feel the cold in our warehouse office or mind that it was a third-storey walk-up. Late nights and housecleaning the place on weekends sapped neither our energy nor creativity. Ideas and conversation fuelled us. From the outset, both major companies and fledgling entrepreneurs trusted us to tell their stories. Awards soon lined the brick walls we’d painted white. Myra had a baby, Clare. We had a granddaughter, Clare, and moved to Vancouver. Perspectives continued on, but in parallel cities on parallel tracks with the usual sidelines of life derailing and boosting us both along. Yet our friendship stayed entwined. One year we even gave each the same book for our birthdays, Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness.
Alan, the man who gave Myra his name, is a Calgarian, headhunted for a job in New York. Like Magellan, he’s a chemical engineer. Until a year ago, Myra and Alan commuted between countries. Then Myra made the move to the US and Alan made his, presenting her with a ring in the butterfly room in the Museum of Natural History.
Their wedding was on a Saturday night. The room was intimate with round tables, warm lighting, low ceilings, walls of emerald green, bouquets of elegance, and filled with the love of a few dozen family and friends. The service was meaningful. The food was perfect: Soft Shell Crab. Beef Bourguignon. Coconut Rice Pudding. I only made one mistake in my speech.
As we night-capped with the newly wedded couple at the Gramercy Park Hotel (where Myra and I had drank rose-lychee martinis six years ago), I knew something extraordinary had happened this day, in New York.
Myra and Alan’s wedding photos shown here were all taken by De Nueva Photography.
Over the last 20 years we’ve stayed at a variety of hotels in NYC. For Myra and Alan’s wedding we bunked in at the Made Hotel. Although the rooms are small, the price is right, it’s near Madison Square Park, the staff are knowing, they make superb coffee, breakfast choices wake you up and there’s a little courtyard garden to relax in.
Here’s a look at Union Square Cafe the first of Danny Meyer’s restaurants, which opened in 1985. He’s also behind other acclaimed restaurants in NYC including Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino and the Shake Shack chain.