New York…my city, my home, my sanctuary. It’s where I’ve lived since 1982. 36 years, the better part of my life.
One of the reasons I love it is because here, I can be who I want to be. It is here that I have reinvented myself time and time again: going from journalist to flamenco dancer to wine sommelier and now, a writer.
The transition from one avatar to the other was seamless, the various worlds not really intruding on one another: friends and acquaintances changed, vistas changed and just like the city, I moved on. Until this week…:
Within the span of a few days, I bumped into two people I knew and worked with at CBS News.
“Kim…the couple at Table 42 wants to talk to the sommelier,” someone said to me as I walked into the dining room.
I nodded and headed over. As I approached the table, I looked at the couple. Sitting on the banquette, he looked very familiar. Just before I approached, I looked in the computer to see who it was. ‘Bill Whitaker.’ Good Lord, I thought. Bill Whitaker used to be a correspondent for the CBS Evening News based in Los Angeles during my tenure there and now a correspondent for CBS News’s 60 Minutes.
As we discussed the merits of a Chassagne Montrachet over a Puligny Montrachet and which would be better with a whole grilled branzino, I wondered if I ought to tell him who I was.
“We’ll try the Puligny,” his wife acquiesced to my suggestion. At which point, I introduced myself.
“Mr. Whitaker, if you would permit me a personal comment,” I started, and told him who I was.
At first, he looked shocked. But then suddenly, he bounced out of his chair and gave me a huge hug. “Well!” he said. “I can’t believe it! Kim Akhtar!”
We talked for a few and caught up quickly as I asked him for a few headlines on people we both knew.
Later that night, I dropped my iphone and cracked the screen. The following day, standing in line at the Apple Store, a woman looked at me, cocked her head and mouthed, “Kim?”
I nodded eagerly.
“Pat Shevlin!” I squealed and ran over to give her a huge hug. “What a wonderful surprise.”
“How are you?” she asked.
“I’m fine…what about you?”
“I’ve retired,” she said to me.
We talked for several minutes promising to have a reunion of sorts over the summer.
I walked out of the store and as I walked up Park Avenue, I got to wondering: I hadn’t seen Pat or Bill in over a decade and then suddenly I see them both within a week…and it really was wonderful to see them. Apart from all three of us looking older, in the short time we had together, we picked up from where we left off and brought our acquaintance into the present. And it was lovely to see them.
And that is what is amazing about New York…you just never know what’s around the corner…it could be a sliver of your past or a glimpse of your future.