New York Winters

22 Aralık 2021 0 Yazar: sexhikayeleri


I spent my summers as a park ranger in Yellowstone. Before you get all teary-eyed about how romantic and macho that sounds, let me remind you that most of it was spent corralling college interns, breaking up campground spats, and trying to keep the local black bear out of the ranger station dumpsters. Once, so long ago I can’t really recall the year, I did something more heroic, but instead of it being rescuing stranded hikers or live-trapping grizzlies, it was discovering a drug distributor and making an arrest. He tried to run so I actually got to turn on the ranger vehicle strobe lights and chased him up to the high pass before altitude got the best of his little Honda and it stalled. I never took my gun out, but my heart was beating hard enough from the high speed chase to firmly plant the experience in my memory. Next time maybe I will wise up and wait for the Staties to arrive on the scene.

If summers were an experiment in patience, hot weather, and an opportunity to get outdoors to meditate and take photographs, winters were either better or worse depending on my mood. Better in the sense that my fall migration to New York City was a serious change of scenery that allowed me to pursue my writing and photography. I was hoping to complete my first book of stories and photos that winter. But returning to New York winters, with their slush and hubbub — the bustle of bankers break-necking it to Wall Street bars, nannies herding over-attended three year olds, like cats, into and out of cabs and museums, and the reverb of overwhelming cultural diversity around every corner — meant I hibernated most of the time, sneaking out for the occasional Chinese food, dry cleaning (I could only write in tattered tweed coats mothballed in spring), and through-the-park reality check walks. Truly, I spent my days tapping away, maneuvering through Photoshop, or helping my condo neighbor, Ms. Hargrave, a 90-year old great grandmother who, spry as she was, appreciated my assistance with groceries or minor household challenges.

The writing was harder than the photos, but I was determined to join my images with story. Summers allowed me ample time to work on my camera skills, but left me no energy for composition, so I brought both together during my city stays. I’d inherited the condo from my uncle — the hermit in the family — and it afforded me the space I needed to work. It was humble in every regard except one: my uncle had completely renovated the kitchen, removing a bedroom entirely to accommodate the spacious design. He cooked, and by that I don’t mean tomato soup or French toast. He’d taken a year off after being made partner at a midtown firm, and he studied cooking in France. He’d always appreciated a fine meal, but upon his return he started cooking them for he and his occasional visitors. He left behind a cabinet of recipes, covered in notes to himself, as well as olive oil, butter stains, and hardened, dried bits of dough and flour specks. I’d spent hours one day thumbing through the catalogs of dishes, not just from France, but Indonesia, Japan, India, and Italy — everywhere really. I had even taken a few out, taken out the mixer and the chopping block, and prepared a few meals. But it never tasted right to me, and the decisions and nuances were overwhelming to my mind. So, for the better part of a decade now, the kitchen, the most glamorous room in the place, had been ignored. I put the counters to work storing stacks of reprints and negatives from my writing project. Besides the Saturday morning scrambled eggs or oatmeal, or reheated take-out, I had given up on my culinary development to focus on my strengths.

So it was that I found myself on a stormy late-October Monday morning scribbling over my latest chapter, dribbling milk absent-mindedly from my cereal bowl as I ate, and wishing the sunlight was pouring in rather than the rain pouring down the window pane. The phone ringing pulled me out of my intense editing and swirling thoughts, and by the time I set aside my cereal, got up from my chair, crossed the hall to the living room and picked up the phone it was too late. My octogenarian editor was an early bird (as well as a strange one), so I surmised it was him calling. Perhaps he’d leave a message and I made a mental note to check. John had retired long ago but was an old friend of my grandmother’s and agreed to help me find a home for my book if I ever finished it. I returned to my soggy cereal and tried to focus again, but I’m afraid the call had distracted me sufficiently that I couldn’t get my head into it and I fell asleep on the couch.

Again, the phone rang, this time waking me abruptly. I rolled off the couch, and grabbed the receiver.

“Jesse here,” I blurted, sounding both groggy and startled.

“Jesse, it’s Karen. I’m sorry to call but I have been trying to reach you and it’s important.”

Karen was John’s assistant, an astute judge of character, and a heaven-sent organizer of John’s overwhelming catalog of books, notes, edits, and business contacts.

“I have very sad news Jesse. John died in his sleep last night — his caretaker found bakırköy escort him this morning when she came in,” she said, in a whisper, her voice cracking with emotion.

I sat back heavily on the couch, holding my head with one hand, the phone with the other. I’d known him for forty years, and had helped him edit a photography dictionary. I’d watched his children grow, briefly dated his youngest daughter, and had Thanksgiving with his family when I attended college in the city. John was a trusted mentor, and a stalwart friend for me, in good times and bad.

With a heavy voice, I wrapped up the conversation, not really knowing what to do or say, and spent the day bumping around the condo in a daze — drinking teat with toast and, as the day wore on, whiskey. It was hard on me, and that Monday seemed pass in a dream. The days wore on, and my writing suffered, shelved itself, as I passed time watching TV, taking drizzled walks in the park, and talking to friends and family on the phone. I distracted myself by fixing old camera gear, corresponding with fellow rangers via email, and planning the eulogy. I was expected to speak, and I somehow got through John’s service, said hello, and much too quickly, goodbye to his family and other friends, and found myself back in the condo, staring at the huge messy pile of photos and notes that formed the backbone of the book.

Suddenly the intensity came back. I had to finish this volume, and I would dedicate it to John. this was my way of saying goodbye I decided, and I threw myself into it seven days a week. I was surprised by my fervor and within two weeks I had completed a draft on my computer. It needed work, but what before was a skeleton of ideas and images was now a full-fledged book. Karen had promised to try to find another partner willing to take on the editor role, and when an email arrived from her announcing she had succeeded in finding someone to help me, I was thrilled. We made an appointment the following week which gave me time to get a semi-professional printed copy prepared and put in some last minute technical touches to the draft.

It was a cool, cloudless day in November, so I packed my draft and walked from the Upper West side to the twelve story midtown building of the publisher. Karen met me enthusiastically — I hadn’t seen her since the service a month earlier, and we had a long, supportive hug. She led me to the elevator banks, up a floor, and across to a windowed corner office. I guess I had been shopped “up” I think the term was, and I was impressed.

“She is a bit frosty at first blush, but she is the best,” Karen told me as we approached the office entrance.

“Simone, this is Jesse. Jesse, Simone,” she introduced us.

I was a little taken aback by the corner office, then by how much younger Simone was than I had imagined. Perhaps in her late thirties, she stood and surprisingly firmly shook my hand, gazing unflinchingly into my eyes as we greeted each other. She was dark haired, with straight locks that were held in at tight elegant tie at the base of her neck. A dark, elegant suit said Wall Street more than editor, but the pencil behind her ear, the reading glasses, and the lack of flashy jewelry gave away her real profession. She was strikingly beautiful, in a formal way — sharp profile, slender, tall. Her eyes radiated an intense confidence and curiosity, and she was obviously very comfortable in her own space. The office was sparsely furnished in a more modern style than I was used to from my visits with John, replete with a large Miro print on the only wall that wasn’t glass. I refocused on the meeting at hand.

We began with formalities about my contract, John’s death, and the status of my writing. She had seen some of the images electronically, as well as an outline for the book. She complimented me on my aesthetic, and asked for the printed version to review. I pulled it from my portfolio case, and she opened it on the over-sized glass waist-height table, where we both reviewed the images and layout. Karen returned with coffee, and the three of us scanned the the book together, each lost in our own viewing, interpreting world. They were both so intense about it that I felt as if I wasn’t even in the room — they were lost in concentration, mumbling, putting 3M stickies on certain pages, glancing at each other knowingly.

After twenty minutes, Simone looked up, pulled her glasses off in a flash, and in a cool, calm voice that carried a tone of confident professionalism, said, “Jesse, John was right to defend this project to the directors. Some of the images don’t belong, or lack the energy of the others, but the others… My oh my. I’ve never seen a draft with this much promise Jesse. The images are unique, and they carry a strong message of hope. That is what I see in these images: hope.”

“Take this one for example,” she continued, “I think it may be the cover. Look at the boy, his expression, looking upwards, toward the light source, the camera, the parent? What can I say? It is a stunning composition.”

She took a deep breath, and Karen, beşiktaş escort from behind her, winked at me. “Bravo” the wink suggested — atta boy! I nodded to them both, not sure what to say. I took it all as a complement, the good news and the constructive feedback.

I smiled gently, “How do we proceed from here?”

“I tell you what Jesse,” Simone replied. “Leave this copy, let me get into the text, and let me run it by the designers. I think the layout needs help here, but we have a lot to work with. Give me a week. This is my top priority.”

That was when I realized that I had flushed a bit, my face reddened slightly. And then I understood that I was captivated by her stunning beauty, and I couldn’t help myself from looking at her blue eyes, her lips, her taught neck, and strong hands holding and turning the pages. I pulled myself together, and re-focused. We shook hands upon parting, and I her shake was, again, strong, focused, confident, and direct, and, for me it was strangely intimate, as if sharing my photos had somehow brought her quickly into my world, my aura, my style. We parted, and Karen showed me out after she and I chatted briefly about the book and how she was getting to work for a new editor on the seventh floor now that John had passed away.

At home, I realized I couldn’t get my mind off of Simone. I poured a drink, sat to read, but couldn’t concentrate. It had been a long time since I had met a woman, strong and vocal, to whom I felt attracted. And I don’t mean only physical attraction. I felt a powerful attraction, I could tell, and it was building and forming as I thought about the meeting. The girl was gone from Simone, from what I could tell. This was a woman, her own soul. But she was also out of my league — what Manhattan book editor would be interested in a park ranger by day, photographer by night? Give it up, Jesse, I told myself. I had to let go of her erotic intensity, her curious smile, her slender profile, her Paris perfume. And I picked up my book and put the thoughts on some dusty shelf alongside so many others.

And I put my romantic idolizing aside rather successfully it turned out. By late February, several drafts later, the heavy-handed editing from Simone and her assistant helped complete the book. An initial printing was completed, and I accepted their invitation for a celebration at an address on the East side, a part of the city I rarely ventured to without good reason.

I put on my best tweed and tie, and arrived to a busy affair, with champagne and cocktails, printers, editors, copy checkers, and even a critic or two discussing another book that had paralleled mine in its journey to publication. It took me a moment to realize that this was Simone’s condo, and not a rented space or a private room at a restaurant. The furniture was new, and modern, like her office, with artwork to round out the sharper edges. It matched Simone’s taste in clothing and style.

My ear caught her sharp crack of laughter, and I turned to see her, from behind, her head back in laughter, talking to Karen and her boyfriend. She was stunning, in a black evening dress, her champagne held casually in one hand, her hair hanging freely — dark, sultry. I swallowed, and mingled. There was a quick toast, and more champagne and shrimp. It was an impressive gathering, and I reacquainted myself with a photographer and her husband I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Then came dinner — an unexpected treat to say the least. Incredible Indian dishes, seafood, cold pastas. I ate, and ate more — chatting with the guests, thanking them over and over again for their help with my book, and hoping I wouldn’t suddenly realize that I had left someone important out of my thank you’s in the preface.

Slowly, around 11 pm, the evening waned and guests started departing. I was touched by the attention, and very thankful of Simone and her firm for shepherding it to completion.

“Jesse, it was the last I could do,” Simone said. “Your book is a gem, and it was an honor to watch it come to life. I’m just sorry John couldn’t see it through to the end. He would have been very enthusiastic and proud — hell, he loved it in its unfinished form. Imagine what he would say now?”

I stammered out a thank you, layered on some self-effacing “aw shucks”, and swallowed again, feeling slightly inadequate as a park ranger standing next to a woman who surely was the most stunning editor at any publishing house, anywhere — a woman confident in crowds, serving guests in her multi-million dollar condo, a woman confident in her own body.

We talked some more, laughed, and I walked to the hall. I realized then that everyone had left ahead of me, and I suddenly felt the intense attraction rise up in me again. Simone smiled at the door. I awkwardly held out my hand which she shook firmly and added, “Karen will follow up with details of the second publication Jesse. Please be in touch.”

Our handshake went just long enough that it suddenly was more than a handshake. I nodded, blushing a bit, pulled my hand from hers, and turned for the elevator. beylikdüzü escort She was an impressive woman, no doubt about that, and as my face hit the cool spring air with a smattering of rain falling, I looked up to her condo windows above and felt a longing I hadn’t experienced in years. There was something I was losing here, and I wasn’t sure what to think of it. And, after the glance up, I shrugged and turned, and walked back across the park, to my own life, to my preparations for summer.

Before I knew it, I was back to bus loads of tourists, back country fishing trips, and the task of updating backcountry maps and pamphlets for the adventurous park visitors. I occasionally day dreamed about Simone, especially when I saw an attractive woman amongst the tourists. But of the most part, I put her out of my mind. After a couple dinner and movie dates, I even slipped into a casual relationship with one of the park administrators, a woman I had known for some time and shared many a hike with in the back country.

Getting back to New York in September, I felt a little lost. I had never been in the city without my book project, and I had nothing to replace it with. I fiddled in the impressive kitchen but felt like a novice watchmaker in a Swiss factory: frurstrated and impatient, not to mention just plain disfunctional. I spent a weekend in DC with my sister. That helped but I was still going stir crazy after just a few days back from the capital. I put out feelers to friends and relatives, and a cousin who worked at the Guggenheim she invited me to an opening. Thank god! I graciously accepted — I needed to get out more, and the exhibit was that of a respected Chinese photographer. Maybe I’d learn something I told myself, but the reality is that I was looking forward to getting out, and catching up with my cousin afterwards.

The reception was crowded, and in the Guggenheim lobby that meant several hundred people, maybe more, were milling about. My cousin, Susan, introduced me to her workmates, and I wandered the exhibits for at least an hour, taking in the museum itself as well as the black and white prints which, to my eye, looked a bit awkward and in-your-face. Someone must like this stuff, I told myself, reminding myself that someone had just paid almost a million dollars for one of his famous prints.

“Jesse?” a voice came from over my shoulder.

I spun around, but even before I saw her I knew the voice was Simone’s. She was in an all-white evening dress — something that might look ridiculous on most, but which fit her body and style perfectly. I was breathless, literally. Finally, I managed to speak.

“Oh my, Simone, you surprised me. You look absolutely stunning, as always.”

“You bet I do,” she said, winking in a playful way, and moving up so close to me that I could have wrapped my arms around her completely without stepping further towards her.

“Jesse, I missed you. It is damned nice to see you, and so unexpectedly,” she said to me, in a hushed voice now that we were so close.

I stopped noticing everything around me, the museum, the photos, the people passing by. I could only focus on her eyes and mouth, as she spoke. I couldn’t tell if she personally missed me, or msised working with me. But when she reached up and spun my tie in her hand it suddenly felt like it was personal.

“It’s great to see you Simone. I would have stopped in, but, you know me, I am not working on a book now, and I am sort of lost here in the city without a project to focus on.”

“Hmmm…” she muttered. “Stop the formal office chit chat Jesse.”

And she pulled my tie hard, pulling me towards her, and kissed me. It was an eye-opening kiss, I must say. I was totally shocked, but my god it felt good. I was lost in the decisiveness of the kiss, the surprise, the intensity when suddenly all my feelings towards Simone that I had shelved six months before came flooding back. I remembered walking home alone from her condo as it was yesterday — I could hear the traffic, feel the rain on my face again.

The kiss intensified. With one hand on my tie, tugging hard, she wrapped the other around the back of my neck, pulling me down towards her.

Then she let go. Just as quickly as the kiss began, it ended.

“God damn I have been wanting to do that for a long time Jesse,” she said, biting her lower lip lightly with her teeth and rolling her head back as a smile formed to each coner of her mouth. Her eyes squinted slightly, and I could see at the end of the smile a vulnerability. I couldn’t tell what it was, but I noticed it distincly. And then, just as suddenly, she blew me a kiss, twisted her body around, and walked back into the crowd. She was gone, just like that. She was gone.

I was dumbstruck. At first, I felt like I had just made it up. The kiss, the encounter. But it was real, that I knew. I had just been kissed, kissed hard, by the most incredible woman I had ever met — in a surprise public encounter no less. I shook my head, ran my fingers over my lower lip, remembering the pressure, the taste of her lips, the sway of her hips as she sauntered away. Something told me not to chase after her, and I shook my head again, smiling, and left. I caught a cab directly home, after thanking Susan and telling her that I had to leave unexpectedly — I just didn’t have it in me to sip Coronas with her bevvy of museum buddies.