When the prodigal son returns to NYC, there’s only one place to meet – at Katz’s Deli for a pastrami on rye and a cream soda on the side!
Friend Peter is a digital lighting artist who had recently moved back from the west coast with his wife. We were both part of a close circle of friends in our teens and twenties where he and I moved in and out of each other’s lives always knowing we would be there and never setting up any rules or regulations. Our friendship ranged from the arts, science, business, literature – anything that happened to catch our eyes, ears, or impulsive imaginations. But we lost touch about 25 years ago – there’s no exact reason why. Landscapes change, careers change, relationships change.
A few years back, we somehow picked up on our old friendship. He had moved west from NYC, married and developed into an innovative artist, designer and teacher. We were interrupted again by my illness but by that time we had grabbed the old thread – as if we’d never lost touch.
Yesterday we agreed to meet in front of the salamis in the window at Katz’s. While I waited, I looked into every face that came in thru the swinging door, not know really what to expect, or see, or feel.
Then, this dark-haired, tough looking pug came thru the door and I screamed out “Greek!”
How we fell into each other’s arms! Sometimes you never really know how much you’ve missed someone until they’re suddenly in front of you. How do you gain back 25 years? You do…in an instant!
We spent a few hours catching up and again there we were discussing contemporary art, film, books, cable tv, people we remembered from the group we traveled with and exchanged some family photos. The owner of Katz’s, Alan Dell, saw two old guys off at a long table in the back, the wreckage of the pastrami left over in front of them, talking with their arms and hands in front and overhead. He came over to say hello and share a few stories of his own until it was time to gather up and move on.
We walked the streets of the lower east side, visiting Economy Candy (we both agreed that it’s pronounced ju-ju-beez and even brought a few other customers into the debate), pushed on to Kossar’s Bialys, and then a few doors down stepping in to bathe ourselves in the caramel perfume of fresh-baked doughnuts at the Doughnut Plant. Sometimes it is all about the food!
But the afternoon was turning into evening and he we both had to head back to our respective homes. Promises were made and will be kept to stay in touch.
There are still some ways to come home again…