“Babe its time for drinks and getting to know each other.” Sylvia breaks my work trans. Like the runner high I get after the first mile, I am in a zone. Designing a plan for our App is another way I run from myself.
“Pick the spot and grab me in five minutes.”
I am in shock when we walk into Nobu in Tribeca. Nate took me here as one of the favors he called in. He knows one of the managers here and we were treated like royalty. The sushi chef treated us to Uni from Tokyo. I have tried Uni from Santa Barbara but never quite took to the taste or texture. The Uni from Tokyo was almost like sweet and silky. The feel of the Uni on my lips triggered a flashback of Ms. Cliff’s lips.
I am excited my Liverpool mate loves sushi. In San Francisco we are spoiled with some of the best Sushi there is in SanFranTokyo. Although eating at Nobu all the time is truly out of the budget, this is a perfect choice for getting to know the woman that will be my lifeline here in this big city. Nate has promised to show me his favorite sushi spots that fit my pocketbook.
“So, you grew up in Liverpool? What was that like? Between the Beatles and the iconic supper club, Cream, the nightlife must have been amazing.”
“Why Valentina, are you a closet raver?”
“I have been known to close down a few night clubs in my days.”
“Love, you are way too young to refer to anything as ‘in my days’, you are about to show me you can live up to this statement.”
“Maybe once I get more settled, not tonight.”
“Well, Mondays at Limelight and the Tunnel are amazing, so don’t think you will get away with avoiding clubbing on a Monday night just because you are a newbie.”
“So, really, what was growing up Sylvia like?”
“Poor but fun! My parents met in the 1970s but the ’80s weren’t so grand in Liverpool. Its economy is steadily growing and is rather safe considering all the craziness we went through in the ’80s. My parents never left the 70’s in their mind’s eyes so being a child of hippie parents is a unique experience.”
“You are telling me, remember, I am from San Francisco, the entire city is stuck in the ’70s. The only thing that has shifted the mindset of the people there is the growth of Silicon Valley. Although they are just a bunch of pot-smoking brilliant gamers that were raised by the same parent as you and I have doesn’t add up to moving and grooving.”
“Well, San Francisco is 3,000 miles away Love, time to talk about your life here.”
“Our lives here! Cheers to that!” So happy that Sylvia is more about looking forward than looking back. I am not ready to pour my heart out to my new fun friend. I don’t want to scare her away by balling my eyes out in front of her. “So, you transferred from London?”
“Since I was young, I have kept my eyes on the prize, New York City! I worked at Wade Smith growing up, thinking I would work for a designer someday. But it was obvious that I was better in Math and Science than at Creative Drawing and Art."
It is crazy, Sylvia is like my complimentary opposite twin. We both grew up making our own way. With New York City being our focus and inspiration and our mathematical mind saving us from our creative start. I so wish I had her accent. She can tell me to jump in the East River and I would be as captivated.
"I started looking into jobs for companies that had offices in the UK and New York City. Then between my brains and my parent’s economic status, I received a scholarship to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. It was a great way to get out of my parent’s house and see somewhere other than Liverpool. With its reputation, I figure it should help me land a good job in London. INK recruited me right out of University.”
“With that impressive resume, why are you my assistant and not the one doing my job?”
Sylvia is very smart and from what I can tell of her ability to keep up with all the information Benji and I hashed out says that she is also very proficient in the language of technology. I am counting my blessings and promise to myself to be a more compassionate Boss than Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl).
“I want to get to know the city and enjoy my life here with as little stress as possible.”
“I am so impressed with how well you know yourself. I seem to be in a constant state of soul-searching and self-improvement.”
“That’s because you are an over-achiever and perfectionist. Liverpool taught me that the ‘ain’t so perfect and pretty’ is not too bad. And if I can survive my childhood, I can survive anything."
Sylvia emanates class and charm. There is no rendering of her to portray her impoverished upbringing.
"Enough about me. We need to sort you out. Like for instance, where you should live. You should look at Brooklyn Heights, it’s not as expensive as being in Manhattan but just as hip.”
“Is that where you live?”
“Not on my salary love, I am living in Williamsburg which is in the borough of Brooklyn. It is the new hip and up and coming in Brooklyn, and it reminds me more of where I grew up.”
“Always remember where you came from so you can appreciate where you are headed,” my father used to say. Nice to know that Sylvia’s parents brought her up pretty much the same.
“That’s that then, tomorrow I will schedule apartments for us to view there over the next few weeks with the corporate realtor, Joan is the best at finding the perfect spot and I can check that off our list.”
“Realtor? We can’t just hit the classified?”
“No hun, around you need a realtor to find and execute leases.”
“Wow, they financially bleed you in this town in every way possible, don’t they?”
“Oh yeh, but the company covers that so we will take our time and find you the perfect place to call home.”
“Well, anything is better than corporate housing. Not to look a gift horse in its mouth, but it does not help diminish the feeling of being alone in this city.”
“Babe, this city has over 1.5 million people, you are never alone in a city like this.”
And on cue, the waiter arrives with a bottle of champagne, sent to us from a group of men from the bar. From the looks of their 3-piece and our current proximity to Wall Street, I am guessing Bankers.
“They make fun playmates. Willing to spoil you; wine you and dine you to bed you. But once that happens, they run for the hills. The trick is to get as much out of them as possible before you sleep with them.” Sylvia schools me on the different men in the room.
“Wow! That is an entirely new concept to me. I usually don’t even want to know their names, let alone dine with them.” I wonder if Tommy and his banker friends are sending any hot ladies drinks.
Sylvia laughs musically and boisterously, just enough for those around us to turn and look but not so obnoxious that we would get kicked out. I have a sense that being Sylvia’s friend will be far from boring. The question is, how do I maneuver our boundaries. She is my first official employee.
“Cheers to you Miss Valentina.”
She lifts a glass of champagne to toast me as well as the men at the bar. Who take it as a signal, of course, to walk over and introduce themselves. Sylvia, introduces us, thanks to them, and suggests we find them at the bar after our dinner meeting. They were like little puppies in heat panting over their first exposure to a bitch. She stroked their egos, they whimpered and left with tails wagging. Looks like I have a lot to learn from Sylvia both in and out of the office.
“So, what’s your story, Miss San Francisco?”
“Oh, you know, the typical. Girl meets boy, girl and boy fall in love, girl loses herself in the fairytale of it all and runs away before she becomes the next Disney Princess.”
“Wow, California is a world so different from mine. Where I grew up, girl meets a boy at local school, girl gets knocked up, said boy runs off and that describes most of the girls I grew up with.”
“So, you are telling me that you didn’t grow up dreaming of meeting a Prince Charming and living happily-ever-after?”
“No, and I don’t believe you did either. That’s why you ran from your Prince Charming, all that fuss is a mystical haze. Or maybe I am just jaded. Liverpool may be hip and cool, fairytale it was not. Most of my friends hung out in the streets to avoid going home. My parents are great and love each other a lot, but poor is poor and there is nothing easy about being poor.”
“Yet it gave you a great head on your shoulders. You have an appreciation for all things in life but smart enough to know when and how to spend your time and money.”
“Stubborn and independent is what my mum calls it.”
“Brilliant is what I will call it.”
“So, since you managed to turn the conversation back to me, something tells me you aren’t ready to share your story.”
“Maybe too drunk at this point. Plus, our boys are heading back this way, and talking about a botched engagement is a bit of a buzz kill.”
At least I didn’t answer a question with a question, look at that, my communication skills are improving already, yay me!
“Ok missy, you were saved by the boys this time, but sooner or later…” And the party started before Sylvia could finish her sentence.
Some of the best nights are when you sit amongst a group and the laughter and conversation flows. You may remember a thing or two of what is discussed, but all of it is superficial enough to stay light and fun and yet smart enough to stay interesting. It feels so good to get lost in conversations about anything other than my past, or even anything to do with me at all.
The world is vast, and the events are aplenty, with the champagne flowing and the conversation moving in circles, I find myself genuinely having fun and letting go.
The lonely little girl part of me is tempted to take one of these men home to fill some void, the mother in Sylvia put a stop to that.
“Never just give it out for free unless you know it will truly be worth it. Let him take you out a few times first and see if he deserves bedtime.” She tells me in the lady’s room.
Which is officially our office away from the office. A lot of great advice comes from Sylvia in a powder room, as well as tips for the ladies working in them. Which is another thing about this city I can’t quite get used to, women in the powder room handing out soap and towels like I don’t know how to wash my own hands? Plus, now I have to remember to always carry 1’s for tipping them, the first visit to a powder room cost me $20. Thanks to my bathroom therapy session, this lonely girl took herself home and attempted sleep.