Today was just the most fun!
I woke up refreshed after a great night’s sleep and went downstairs to meet Dan for breakfast. He’s the one who hired me at the Kennedy Center thirteen years ago based only on a short phone interview that I took sitting in my car at a Flying J gas station off the freeway in Utah. He’s one of the most fun and socially gifted people I know, and I basically want to be like him when I grow up. We had lost touch in recent years, so when we ran into each other last night in the hotel, we decided it was time for a proper catch-up.
We hopped into a cab to the heart of Brooklyn proper, where we had a cozy breakfast in a tiny cafe, and then made our way over to the Brooklyn Museum.
Naturally we started with a visit to the Feminist Art exhibition and Judy Chicago’s amazing Dinner Party. Dan had never seen the work before, but he’s currently working on a collaboration with the artist for his museum in Phoenix, so he was all the more delighted to discover it.
From there we wandered through a few galleries and some very cool behind-the-scenes rooms full of furniture and ceramics and bits of Native American art, until we finally stumbled into the Egyptian exhibit. They have a pretty decent collection, with some lovely sarcophagi and a few mummies.
After that it was time to go back to the hotel to shower and dress for the wedding. It was all going swimmingly until I discovered — GASP!! — that I had left all my ties at home!!! Fortunately I was on the phone with Justin at the moment of discovery and he was able to talk me off the ledge. So I went to the wedding wearing nothing but a suit and shirt and pocket square, hoping that I could pass off my bohemian state of undress as “European” . . . .
And really of course it didn’t matter at all because the wedding was absolutely beautiful. Nicole was radiant, Bruce touchingly emotional, and the Catholic wedding service blessedly short. We rang them out of the chapel with festive jingle bells before piling into trolleys that took us to a rustic industrial warehouse with dance floor and breathtaking views of Manhattan.
The party was terrific — a beautiful setting, a happy occasion, and a room full of fascinating, friendly people. We ate and talked and danced until what felt like the wee hours (but turned out only to be about 10pm), and I was beginning to wonder whether I’d make it to the unofficial after-party. But then Dan proposed running into Manhattan to see the Christmas windows at Bergdorf Goodman and the evening took a delightfully unexpected turn.
Through Nicole’s work in fundraising for the arts, she has developed deep friendships with people of significant wealth and social prominence, and some of them were at the wedding. Some of them were also patrons of the Kennedy Center, so Dan and the other KC friends knew them too. Two of them, Jeannie and Natalia (one in her seventies, the other in her forties, and both worth billions), were completely delightful, and we ended up hanging out with them most of the night. Around the time Dan was thinking of the Bergdorf windows, Jeannie decided she was ready to go back to her hotel, and Natalia offered to give us all a ride into Manhattan.
The four of us climbed into Natalia’s chauffeured black SUV and we glided through the city discussing the wedding and reminiscing about other events that they had attended together. We dropped Jeannie at her hotel and then stopped at Natalia’s — only instead of saying goodbye, Natalia simply handed her party favors to the doorman and told the chauffeur to drive us all over to Fifth Avenue.
We saw the famous Bergdorf windows, which are always elaborate and one of the hallmarks of New York at Christmas. By this time it was late enough that the crowds had thinned, so we could take them in without feeling crushed. This year’s theme was candy; each window a different type of candy. My favorite by far was the cotton candy window, featuring a diaphanous white dress (negligee?) as well as a poodle and two royal figures made out of the bright pink spun sugar!
The runner up, for me, was the black licorice window, with its striking black and white patterns and figures covered in candy that looked like elaborate beads.
By this time we were well freezing and Natalia had decided she was hungry. Fortunately Cipriani’s (a famous and luxurious Italian restaurant) was just a block away and had an open table. Never have I felt so glamourous — walking in with Natalia who is stunningly beautiful (and beautifully dressed in a long green crushed velvet coat) and spoke in fluent Italian to the maitre d’ as he seated us in a cozy table and brought us plates of delectable pasta.
We sat and ate and talked until the place shut down around us. We covered everything from Natalia’s twin children and the Grinch play they would see tomorrow, to Brexit, to the state of affairs at the Kennedy Center. At one point it came up that I knew French and Natalia asked how I had learned. I paused for a moment, debating whether to talk about my mission or gloss over it. I chose to “come out” as Mormon and was surprised how well it went. Natalia sat up with energy and said, “Oh now this is interesting!” and we had a terrific conversation about what missionaries do, and whether Mormons are Christian, and what the church thinks about gay people. It was proof both of Dan’s and Natalia’s openness of mind that I felt no judgment, only respect and curiosity, and of the value of choosing to be interesting and authentic instead of hiding who I am in order to “fit in”.
Anyway, eventually we were the only ones left in the restaurant and our pasta was warming our satisfied tummies. Natalia insisted on paying the bill, and we went out into the night to hail cabs back to our hotels.