Category: catching up with old friends


A Weekend To Remember

June 13th, 2014 — 8:14pm

Last weekend, I enjoyed the rare pleasure of being reunited with two of my oldest and dearest friends. Their visit coincided with picture perfect weather—ideal for strolling around NYC and playing tourist.

The festivities began on Saturday, with the arrival from Toronto of beloved galpal Jackie and her boyfriend Jim. After a visit to the M&M’s store and delicious lunch at one of my favorite greasy spoons in Midtown, we ventured up to Top of the Rock for spectacular 360-degree city views.

Jackie and me at Top of The Rock

Jackie and me at Top of The Rock

From there, we walked to Rockefeller Center, where we were treated to an only in New York sighting: a trio of guys dressed as Ghostbusters photobombing a bride.

Only in NYC!

Only in NYC!

Then, it was off to FAO Schwartz and Central Park before heading back to my place. We were then joined by another BFF, London-based Steve. Over a home cooked dinner, we enjoyed lively conversation about everything from cohabitating to 80s music favorites and career crossroads. I savored every second of being with two cherished friends that have both been a part of my life for more than two decades now.

Steve, me and Jackie

Steve, me and Jackie

Sunday, Steve and I met for brunch in Union Square. We were at the restaurant when I realized I had – eegads! – forgotten my purse back at Starbuck’s. We dashed back over there to find it right on the chair where I left it. With the cash, credit card and ID all there.

My faith in humanity sufficiently elevated, I was beyond relieved as we returned to Petite Abeille, a charming little French bistro more than deserving of its many online raves. The brunch fare is divine and so is the waitstaff.

After bidding farewell to Steve, I met up with Jackie and Jim in Times Square. On the agenda, a 30-minute ride on high speed motorboat, The Beast.

It was a glorious day to take in NYC’s majestic skyline.

Beautiful NYC as seen from my seat on The Beast

Beautiful NYC as seen from my seat on The Beast

I found myself feeling something I haven’t in awhile—smitten with my hometown. Sometimes it takes being with old friends to see everything through new eyes.

Speaking of new, the countdown to my blog makeover is on. Stay tuned for seven days of giveaways, including popular dating advice books and a one night stay at The Westin New York Grand Central!

Comment » | catching up with old friends, Top Of The Rock, Union Square

Return To Toronto: Part Two

February 5th, 2014 — 9:19pm

My wonderful weekend in Toronto continued with a girls day out with dear friend Jackie.

Jackie and me

Jackie and me

As always, we picked up right where we left off, confiding in each other about career transitions, dating dramas and the heavy contemplation that accompanies turning 40.

Along the way, we enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon at Yorkdale Shopping Centre on the outskirts of T.O. First, a yummy lunch at Glow Press, which serves a mouth-watering variety of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Then, we hit various stores before heading out to pick up Jackie’s little boy Ryan.

Back at their place, Jackie whipped up spaghetti and meatballs, and surprised me with chocolate birthday cake.

The decadence continued back at my hotel, where a carrot cake amenity from my Westin Grand Central colleagues was waiting for me. I must say I love extending the big 4-0 festivities (waistline considerations notwithstanding).

Saturday, snowy conditions didn’t get in the way of my next reunion — with high school buddy Emma.

Emma and me

Emma and me

Over a delightful brunch at Fran’s, one of T.O.’s venerable old-school diners, we reminisced about old times and reflected on motherhood (Emma has a young son), getting older and the ties that bind. Emma spoke fondly of my late, beloved parents, sharing with me that she told her partner—

“They had an intimacy not just as a couple, but as friends.”

It meant so much to hear Emma say this, to be reminded of the impact that Mom and Dad had on everyone fortunate enough to know them. My friends in Toronto got to know them very well indeed during epic slumber parties, prom night and the like.

These and so many other happy memories of our years living up north crossed my mind over the course of the weekend. As I walked along familiar streets, many now replaced with new stores and attractions, I couldn’t help thinking of what time hasn’t changed—my gratitude for old friends and my late, beloved parents’ enduring legacy of love.

This week, they would have celebrated 41 years together. I have no doubt that somewhere, they’re enjoying one hell of a party. Cheers to you, Mom and Dad, still my all-time favorite couple.

 

Comment » | catching up with old friends, travel, turning 40, weekend getaways

Return To Toronto: Part One

January 29th, 2014 — 10:08pm

Ever since my family lived there when I was a teenager, Toronto has had a special place in my heart. So it was with great anticipation that I returned last weekend — for the first time in 8 years– to my former hometown.

After checking in to the Sheraton Centre hotel on Thursday, I bundled up and headed out on a nostalgic tour of my old neighborhood.

My home from 1985-1989: 70 Rosehill Avenue

My home from 1985-1989: 70 Rosehill Avenue

As I approached 70 Rosehill Avenue, I  was flooded with happy memories. Recollections of living there with my beloved late parents and grandfather, of slumber parties and first kisses.

Old times also resurfaced during a walk through of Deer Park Public School. Crowding by the lockers (still a hideous shade of blue!) before and after class, adolescent angst about unrequited crushes.

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Where I spent 7th and 8th grades in Toronto

Speaking of crushes, I had the pleasure of catching up with one from high school, Oliver. It had been more than two decades (and at the prom, I think) since Oliver and I had last seen each other. The years quickly fell away, though, as we reminisced and caught up as old friends.

Oliver and me

Oliver and me

Over a delightful dinner at the Sheraton’s BNB Restaurant (roasted tomato soup, chicken quesadillas and – who knew? – Canadian Shiraz), we had the kind of conversation that felt so fitting on the heels of turning 40. Oliver and I talked about the comparatively kinder, gentler times of the 80’s, the enlightening joys of travel and the journey of finding the right relationship.

After we said goodnight, it hit me that the dread of entering this new decade was disproportional to how it feels now that I’m in it. I’m beginning to appreciate why the fortysomethings I know have raved so much about this era. You’re old enough to have accrued some wisdom and strength yet still young enough to make new discoveries. Or, in this case, be reminded of comforting truths—namely that time and distance are no match for good friends.

Comment » | catching up with old flames, catching up with old friends, Toronto, travel, turning 40

Catching Up With Caroline

December 2nd, 2013 — 9:18pm

One of the many wonderful things about old friends is always being able to pick up where you left off. That’s exactly what happened when I recently caught up with my beloved galpal Caroline.

Caroline was back in NYC for the first time since moving to Australia nearly two years ago. We had plenty to catch up on, and we did so over the course of two delightful evenings.

Reunited! Caroline and me

Reunited! Caroline and me

Longtime readers of this blog won’t be surprised to know that I’ve been living vicariously through Caroline and her adventures as a Sydney resident. My love affair with the land of Oz began during a vacation there in January 2002. Shortly thereafter, I became a Sydneysider myself for five glorious months and to this day, it remains one of the most cherished times in my life.

Not surprisingly, Caroline has fallen under the spell of Australia’s many charms – welcoming, hospitable people, amazing scenery and a much healthier work-life balance among them. As she shared stories of traveling around the country and all of the new friends she’s made, I couldn’t help recalling my own journey Down Under.

Like Caroline, I was in my twenties when I lived in Australia. It was a time when I felt hopeful and unburdened by the concerns and tempering effect of age. Caroline, who has always been one of the most positive and effervescent people I’ve ever known, is truly living in the present. Seeing her again reminded me of just how important it is to do that, to not let life’s trials and tribulations wear away at your ability to appreciate exactly where you are – even when it’s not necessarily where you thought you would end up.

I miss my good friend already. And I may just have to pay her a visit in the only city to rival NYC and London for my affections.

Bon voyage again, Caroline!

Comment » | Australia, catching up with old friends, living abroad

Celebrating My Other Favorite City

November 10th, 2013 — 8:46pm

For as much as I adore NYC, there’s one other city that also has a big piece of my heart — London.

Longtime readers of this blog know I first became smitten with England’s capital during my junior year there. Earlier this week, I got to indulge my inner Anglophile — and catch up with my dearest London-based BFF Steve.

Back In The Day: Steve and me in London's Leicester Square (July 1998)

Back In The Day: Steve and me in London’s Leicester Square (July 1998)

Steve and I met up for dinner at Sip Sak, a quaint little Turkish bistro in Midtown East. We were celebrating a very special milestone — twenty years of friendship.

Steve is one of those friends whose wisdom and understanding have carried me through some of the hardest times of my life — and whose company I always look forward to. Our 20th anniversary get together found us, as always, falling into effortless, engaging conversation. We talked about family, relationships and the soul searching questions that come up as you approach 40.

We capped off the night with milkshakes at Johnny Rockets, promising to do the same when we mark 40 years (sigh) of friendship.

Speaking of special occasions, I joined galpal (and former London resident) Stacy to commemorate the UK’s Guy Fawkes Night.

Cheeky Fox: Stacy and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening's signature cocktail

Cheeky Fox: Stacy and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening’s signature cocktail

We attended the St. George Society’s night out at posh shop Thomas Pink. As a DJ spun British pop tunes, we enjoyed cocktails, hours d’oeuvres and mingling. We ended up chatting with two expats who recently moved to New York. They agreed that London and NYC are sister cities, equally irresistible in their varied charms.

I feel very fortunate that both of these vibrant places are a part of me. And I’m counting the days until I’m London bound again!

Comment » | catching up with old friends, junior year abroad, London, turning 40

Long Weekend in LA: Part Two

July 10th, 2013 — 8:33pm

Saturday, my wonderful long weekend in L.A. continued with an afternoon at Malibu Wines.

Nestled in the foothills of Malibu on Mulholland Parkway, this winery is one of the most delightful I’ve ever visited. Umbrella-covered tables compliment two wine tasting taverns, set against a backdrops of mountains and vineyards.

The picturesque setting of Malibu Wines

The picturesque setting of Malibu Wines

The occasion for my visit — joining dear friend A, his wife Leslie and their friends for a performance by talented daughter Ren and her partner Mimo.

I had the pleasure of hearing Ren sing during my last L.A. visit in November as well and she was just as dazzling this time around. With a depth and conviction far beyond her 19 years, she has the kind of voice and stage presence that reminds you of Adele or Joss Stone.

 

Ren and Mimo delighted the crowd at Malibu Wines

Ren and Mimo delighted the crowd at Malibu Wines

In addition to performing her own original music — “That’s The Truth” is one I can’t wait to download — Ren nimbly delivered soulful renditions of classics by Bob Dylan, Melissa Etheridge and Adele too — infusing each song with emotion and taking you on a journey with every note. Mimo’s skilled guitar melodies harmonize perfectly with her. A star is born.

Head on over to her Facebook page for music downloads and info about Ren and Mimo’s upcoming shows.

After the performance, the weekend’s theme of reconnecting continued. First, over a delicious dinner a Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica with longtime family friends Jane and Doron. Then, yesterday, brunch with high school buddy Allison at the W Westwood‘s poolside venue, The Backyard.

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Allison and me

Allison and I talked a lot about getting older and the heavy contemplation it brings. She said she’s decided to make the next decade her “fearless forties.”  I love the sound of that, of embracing the upcoming big 4-0 with fortitude and adventure.

Catching up with Allison was the perfect ending to a fantastic weekend. My visit to L.A. did everything a vacation is supposed to do, not the least of which is feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle life back home.

Here’s to a fearless second half of 2013!

Comment » | catching up with old friends, L.A., travel, turning 40

Long Weekend In L.A.: Part One

July 7th, 2013 — 1:15am

Nothing says summer like a getaway to the West Coast — and that’s exactly what I’m enjoying this weekend in L.A. Since arriving Wednesday night, I’ve been having the time of my life.

I couldn’t have planned it any better, which is ironic given that this trip was originally supposed to be a girlfriends getaway. When my galpal ended up having to work, I opted to make the trip anyway and I’m so happy that I did.

SaraMel

Sara and me celebrating the 4th

Thursday, I celebrated the 4th with college buddy Sara and her sister’s family in Palos Verdes Estates. A delightful cul de sac block party featured homemade salads, barbecue, an array of desserts and adorable kids decked out in red, white and blue gear. Capping it all off: a dazzling fireworks display on the beach set to a soundtrack of patriotic music. God bless America.

Fireworks

We had a perfect beachside view of the fireworks

Yesterday, I ventured over to my favorite part of L.A, Santa Monica, for lunch with my dear friend A. Over a light, lingering lunch at Café Crepe on the Third Street Promenade, we enjoyed a soul soothing conversation about family milestones, career crossroads and making time to nourish the creative process.

A and me at Cafe Crepe in Santa Monica

A and me at Cafe Crepe in Santa Monica

A is currently appearing on A&E’s compelling homicide drama set in the Southwest, Longmire. This show is truly in a class by itself, don’t miss it.

After lunch, I strolled around Santa Monica before returning to the W Westwood for some poolside lounging time. Then, it was off to dinner in Beverly Hills with my surrogate mom Gwen.

Gwen introduced me to the inviting elegance and charm of The Peninsula Hotel’s rooftop restaurant. In a word….wow. I won’t soon forget the perfectly prepared scallops or heavenly caramel tree dessert — though the most memorable part of the evening was spending quality time with someone I love dearly.

I am truly blessed in my friends.

Up next…a magical afternoon in Malibu.

Comment » | catching up with old friends, L.A., travel

A Perfect Saturday With A Dear Friend

March 6th, 2013 — 8:21pm

Saturday, I spent the day with my dear London-based friend of nearly twenty years, Steve.

Our fantastic afternoon began at my day job, The Westin New York Grand Central. After giving Steve a brief tour, we settled into the cozy lounge and dining area of THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen.

THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen's cozy dining area

While indulging in mimosas and hot chocolate — an odd combination that managed to go perfectly together — we caught up on all that’s happened since we last saw each other in August.

Steve told me about how and he his partner celebrated ten years together with an English countryside getaway. I shared some recent dating disasters, including a guy who suddenly launched into x-rated talk on date #2 and couldn’t fathom why I wasn’t swooning. Much as I enjoyed the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, a second date is a little too soon to go there, if you know what I mean.

After a leisurely stroll through Grand Central Terminal and some shopping, we stopped at Panera Bread. I’m a big fan of the chain and it only recently opened this one location in Manhattan, so I was excited to visit. Much to our great surprise and delight, Panera’s cinnamon scone was delicious. I say this because scones on this side of the pond tend to be a poor imitation of their British counterparts.

Steve and me at Barbounia

From there, we headed down to Gramercy for dinner at Barbounia, an upscale Greek restaurant with a trendy yet inviting vibe. We shared a few small plates (falafel, burrata with artichokes, hummus, tzatziki and spicy feta) and continued our effortless conversation — talking about everything from why Adele rocks to misconceptions about singlehood.

Steve agreed that it’s often one extreme or the other when it comes to partnered up people’s assumptions about the unattached: that our lives are either just like Sex And The City, or we’re curled up in a ball on our couches, pining away for a significant other. The reality is that, much like relationships, singlehood has its ups and downs. It’s not all good or all bad.

What is most definitely all good — a friendship that only grows and deepens with time. Steve said that, nearly two decades later, ours is still evergreen. I couldn’t agree with him more.

Comment » | being single in your thirties, catching up with old friends, Sex and The City, Westin New York Grand Central

An Action Packed Saturday

September 18th, 2012 — 9:08pm

My eventful Saturday got off to a bumpy start when I headed over to fifth ave to meet up with Pete, one of my favorite bachelors from my European Dating Blitz.

It turned out there was German American von Steuben Day Parade. I feared that amidst all of lederhosen and Swiss Miss clad people, I wouldn’t find Pete. Especially when I realized I had mixed up the time we were meeting. Eek.

Thankfully, once he had wifi, Pete and I connected in time for us to meet for a late lunch at Hooter’s (his choice). I enjoyed both the food and, ahem, perky staff more than I expected to, and it was great catching up with Pete.

He told me about his whirlwind week of travel (Toronto, Memphis, Boston) and I filled him in on my fabulous new job. I was happy to hear he’s in the midst of a new romance. Pete is one of those genuinely good guys who reminded during my Dublin visit a few years back that they do exist. Such a sweetheart.

T-Bar Steak & Lounge: Great place for a girls night out (photo courtesy: VenueBook.com)

Speaking of favorite people, the evening brought a chance to catch up with my good friend Crystal. Crystal radiates warmth and joy, and being around her means guaranteed smiles — and on this particular occasion delicious food too.

We headed over to T-Bar Steak and Lounge on the UES, where we shared a selection of appetizers (crispy oysters, fried calamari, foie gras) and a mouthwateringly perfect ice cream sundae with chocolate molten cake. Along the way, we talked about relationship learning curves, cutting ourselves some slack and future girls nights out. At least one 80’s concert is in our immediate future for sure.

In life and dessert, good friends really do make everything sweeter.

Comment » | catching up with old friends, Girls Night Out, The European Dating Blitz, travel

London Finale: Flirting, Fun & Friendship

August 26th, 2012 — 11:47am

Last Thursday, my adventures in London continued with an eventful girls night out.

Caffe Concerto has several locations in London

After dinner at cozy Italian eatery Caffe Concerto, Rachel and I walked over to Dion’s, a bar tucked away behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had very fond memories of live music and a very favorable guy-girl ratio at Dion’s during my last visit. So I was a little disappointed when we walked in to find the bar mostly empty, especially since I’d been talking it up to my single London friends as a great spot for mingling.

We were only a few sips into our cocktails when a cute local bloke named Joe, 35, suddenly appeared.

“My friends are boring, can I join your conversation?”

A direct, wry and ever so British approach. Needless to say, Rach and I happily said yes. We were soon joined by a few of Joe’s colleagues as well.
As Rachel hit it off with one of them, I learned that Joe has a passion for motorcycles and DIY projects – and possesses the charm and candor that has made me very susceptible to British bachelors. When I commended Joe for taking the initative in a friendly way to say hello, he responded—

“We’re all lonely at the end of the day, so why not?”

Sigh. If only New York men could take a page out of this no nonsense playbook!

Eventually, the verbal flirting between Joe and me found him pulling me into a quick hug. I could happily have extended it, but Rachel reminded me the tube was about to shut down for the night. Before I raced to catch it, Joe leaned down for a kiss. Apart from him referring to himself as my “toy boy,”  a perfect night.

Speaking of perfection, that’s also how I would describe my final day in London.

All smiles in Trafalgar Square…with sunglasses!

The weather was glorious – so glorious that I took a picture in Trafalgar Square with sunglasses on for the first time in 22 years of coming to London. After drinking in the view of the square and Big Ben beyond it, I made my way over to iconic tea house Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, where I enjoyed my final round of afternoon tea and scones with clotted cream.

Then, it was off to Sloane Square for drinks with fellow writer and Ireland-born Conor, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during my European Dating Blitz. This visit to London was a wonderful mix of new and old friends, a week-long reminder of why I love England’s capital so much.

What better way to end my trip than with my dear friend of 19 years, Steve?

BFF: Steve and me at Zaika

Over a delicious meal at upscale Indian restaurant Zaika on Kensington High Street, Steve and I fell into easy conversation like we always do. Three hours later, we’d covered a lot of ground on the topics of life, love, family and the battle to fight wrinkles.

As we said goodbye, I felt a surge of melancholy about leaving London. And then I smiled because I know it will always be a part of my life. Until next time, fair city.

Comment » | afternoon tea, catching up with old friends, Girls Night Out, London, St. Paul's Cathedral, The European Dating Blitz, Trafalgar Square, travel

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