When the bartender said my Red Stripe was $7 from behind his dingy pen, I shouldn’t have been surprised. The Fortune Cookie Lounge’s décor isn’t exactly top notch, but after all, I was in the East Village on a Saturday night. This is not a place I usually find myself, but I’d switched shifts to leave work early and see Axton Frick’s final NY appearance for the foreseeable future. I came to his first one, so it only felt right that I went to the last one. Plus he’s moving to Australia, which meant I’d likely not see him again for quite some time.
Already half-awake from a day of moving and working (not to mention the shift beer I’d drank on the way), my energy was low. Seeing Adam come in the door wearing a large motorcycle helmet that he’d apparently found that afternoon, raised my spirits, though. Soon enough, I was approached by a number of former co-workers too, all seemingly interested in my well-being and actually happy to see me. This wasn’t the first time I’d run into people since leaving the Odeon, but nearly seven months out I was impressed that they still cared. From there the night blended together pretty smoothly — lots of catch up, a cheaper beer, a fun set by Axton — but eventually my stamina gave way.
I could’ve stayed longer, nursing my night along on drink tickets (which I didn’t know about until later), but somehow just going felt like enough. It takes nights like this one to remind me why I still live here after I go through a period of staying in long enough to forget. The fact that I could show up at a random basement bar, see so many familiar faces and actually learn some new things about them gave me hope. It made the stifling, anonymous heat of the subway platform a little less frustrating, and the fact that I didn’t get home until 4 a.m. not seem so bad. Plodding home down my deserted street, I almost understand why people would want to go out and do this every weekend. That’s how this place gets you, though. Next weekend at the Fortune Cookie Lounge the Red Stripe would still be too much, the bartender wouldn’t know who I was and I could just as easily run into somebody that I didn’t want to see.