Wind Chill Factor [ 2004-12-21, 12:38 a.m. ]

The list of people for whom I will walk a mile in 9-degree weather is short but sweet, and among the chosen few is my friend Em, who is moving to Washington D.C. in a few weeks, and so I put on my biggest, furriest hat tonight and walked the cold blocks to meet her for dinner in Carroll Gardens. And when I say �9-degree weather� I mean it was barely 9 degrees before the wind chill was even factored in, just like when I say � biggest, furriest hat� I mean the monstrosity that I bought thinking, No way will I ever really wear that in public, but which I donned happily this morning in an effort to keep my ears from freezing and falling off of my cold, cold head. When it was 7 degrees. But I digress�

I met Em at a newish little restaurant that Leonardo DiCapri0 and Gisele Buuunnncchen have reportedly been spotted at, although it is deep in brownstone Brooklyn (far, far from Gansevoort and the like) and as Em pointed out, the entire menu is some variation of cheese on bread, food which Gisele probably does not eat. I had a meatball sandwich, and was forced to concede that Gisele the Supermodel is not likely to order dinner with the word �balls� in it. But Em and I had a lovely dinner with plenty of variations of cheese-on-dough-with-sauce, capped off with espresso and a serious discussion of HOW FUCKING GREAT the movie �Before Sunset� is, and how badly we wished there was a scene of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke totally Doing It, even though the ending was perfect just as it was. I walked Em to the subway, taking a detour to walk past my old apartment (on 2nd Place) and her old apartment (on 1st Place), realizing that we actually lived only a block apart from each other back in 2000, before we had ever met. (I actually met Em for the first time on the morning that Kent and I moved in together, in March of 2001, while walking from my old apartment to his, waiting for the movers to show up.) Ohmigod, Em said, grabbing my arm (as best as one can with three sweaters, a parka and mittens). IT IS JUST LIKE BEFORE SUNSET WHEN ETHAN HAWKE THOUGHT HE SAW HER, she said. ON HIS WEDDING DAY ON BROADWAY! I finished. Yes, I said, It is TOTALLY like Before Sunset, except not, because of the sex-and-love stuff, but YES, I know what you mean, and how funny is it that we were neighbors way back then.

I walked back in the cold feeling guilty for not spending longer on the phone with my parents last night. They called late, and I was tired and had cramps and had nothing to say. And it�s Christmas in four days and I haven�t been home in months and I feel guilty about it and I know my parents wish I was around more, or that I at least was a little more open with them, but somehow, it is still hard for me. But I will do just about anything for my friends, really and truly. I believe wholeheartedly in the �Urban Family� concept, and have burrowed into a cozy little group of friends who I love like family and with whom I would prefer to spend holiday time. I love my family too, and in a perfect world, I would have time and space for both, but this world is far from perfect and I seem to have put myself smack in the middle of a tug-of-war between two selves, one who makes time to chat with her parents and visits home regularly and one who puts on a big furry hat to walk a mile for a glass of wine with a friend who first saw �Before Sunrise� nine years ago in Vienna and after seeing the movie, actually went to the park where Jesse and Celine spent their night together.

I�m weird about family. I know I am. My parents know it too, and don�t push me, but when my mom visited last month, we were talking and she pointed out how her two shy kids live far from her and her two outgoing ones live close by (if you consider 8 hours by car close, I suppose). Last year my parents and brother M and his girlfriend came to visit for New Year�s, which was perfect. Kent and I celebrated with them as well as our friends, and I felt like I really had it all. But now � having to choose between staying in New York and traveling to either California or Ohio, I want to stay here, always. I want my holidays to be with my friends and I want them to be at my home and I want to stay far, far away from Kennedy Airport.

But I can�t have it both ways, can I?

My own family is terrific, though. And I fantasize about someday having a big cabin in the woods somewhere, with plenty of room for all our friends and family to visit for indefinite periods of time during the holidays, schedules that allow everyone to take a month off work, and lots of cheese and wine.

Speaking of cheese and wine, Kent and I had a party on Saturday night�the theme was Cheese & Chocolate, and we ended up with a ridiculous amount of both. Our friends brought lots of food, and some got creative; one brought us some chocolate stout, one brought cocoa body lotion for me, my friend Angela brought the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted (the secret? Don�t cook them enough.) The party was coming on the heels of a crazy week � the store was KRAZEE busy, and remember how I mentioned a new job? Well, yep, I had a new job, but then last week I got a call from a different company about a different job, and long story short, I have a NEW new job now. For the first time in my professional life, I am In Demand, and it coincided perfectly with the zenith of my social life (otherwise known as FOUR SEPARATE Parties In One Week, who is more popular than me?), not to mention Kent�s final exams and the busiest days of work, Ever. But wah wah wah, my life is really pretty darn good and I hate when I get all Listen to me recap mundane things and/or Listen to me whine, so I will cut to the chase:

Party = FUN. Sunday = RELAXING. Pants = TOO TIGHT on account of all the cheese and chocolate. Oh, and wine and beer and cheese again. And moo shu pork.

And now it is frigid and dark and late and I have a knot in my neck (always) and a zit on my cheek (fucking again) and a date with a little dog and her leash (one more time tonight). But here are the only pictures I managed to take on Saturday night�I planned on taking lots of arty-abstract-look-at-everyone-having-fun shots and ended up with two non-arty, non-creative line-ups; the first is me and my friends, the second is our husbands. I�m in the center wearing a top that turned out to be a little see-through on camera, Kent is on the left.

See why I love my Urban Family so much? Sorry Mom and Dad, but I�m spending New Year�s here�

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