More Power To You

February 5th 2015

Story originally written and experienced: May 20th 2011

“Can I buy you a drink?”

It was 2:30 am.

And I had a feeling he might ask.

But only because.

I was sitting at the bar alone, as the acquaintances I came with were

d    i    s   p   e    r    s    e    d  

Accordingly in every corner of the premises, drunkenly swooned by the closest man that would give them a semi-flattering look.

Does this qualify?



There was nothing wrong with that.

I just. Felt. Weird.

I’d been living in New York City for 5 entire days. Fresh from graduation. A few pennies in my pocket. And this evening was my first attempt out.

And there I was. At this bar.

A “grown” adult. Living in a temporary dorm room. Working an unpaid internship. Rooming with strangers. And agreeing to “test out the nightlife” with them circa 2:30 am.

 And I just. Felt. Weird.

Maybe it was because I wasn’t in my college living room anymore, playing rogue drinking games with my super stellar friends.

These fools.

These fools.


Or running rampant at a party with my most-trusted hoodrats where we would put on under garments that simply weren’t ours:

How did this happen...again.

Or maybe that was just me…


Or panicking when my best friend Penny asked Claire and I to mix her a hard drink after a long and excruciating day while she got ready upstairs…only to realize that upon removing her $3.99 vodka from the freezer to create her concoction…

It was completely frozen.




And in an act of severe desperation (and not wanting to taint Penny’s day even further), Claire and I fired up the stove and attempted to melt that shit down moments before she walked





the stairs.

The culprits.

The culprits.

We kept this secret for 3 years...

We kept this secret for 3 years…


Good thing there’s no documentation of it.



Maybe that was it.

I missed them.

All of them.

Screaming inside jokes and memories with the people I knew best.

And now.

I was out with strangers. In a strange place. Feeling weird.


We were at a bar called Rathbones on 88th street and 2nd ave.

For a visual.

For a visual.


Dancing dances and making mindless chatter with…

“Hey, can I buy you a drink?”

His name was Justin. And he was looking right at me.

It was 2:30 am.

And I had a feeling he might ask.

But only because.

After I danced my dances and finished doing wing woman things, I was sitting alone at the bar, as my new acquaintances (and fellow interns at Oprah Magazine):

The newest of friends.

The freshest of friends. (Bonnie, Nicole, Meg, Me)



d    i    s   p   e    r    s    e    d  

Accordingly in every corner of the premises. Drunkenly swooned by the closest man that would give them a semi-flattering look.

Pretty sure this qualifies.



There was nothing wrong with that.

I just. Felt. Weird.

“You don’t have to waste your money on me.” I told him, sipping a red bull doused with Three Olives grape. “I’m perfectly fine.”

“Are you sure? I’m trying to figure out if you’re having fun.”

“I’m having a lot of fun. I was dancing a few minutes ago. I’m highly entertained watching my friends be entertained. I’m a hell of a wing woman, you know. I’m just taking a break.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah but. Okay, I lied. Tonight these fine ladies found these gems all on their own.”

                    >>> “Bye Olive!”

We were briefly interrupted by my new friend (and later to be best friend) Nicole, who endearingly and in the most inebriated manner told me she was heading home for the evening, and she’d see me again soon. And also she wanted pretzels. So she really had to go.

“Bye Nicole! Good luck with the pretzel hunt.”

>>> “Thanks!”

And she was out the door.

“Was that your friend?”

“Nothing gets passed you.”

“Sarcastic, I see.”


“Okay so. These guys your friends are with. Who are they?”

“Hmmm. From what I’ve gathered, one of them is with a self-proclaimed NYPD cop named Vinny.” I said pointing to one corner. “And I guess the other one is his brother Billy.” I said pointing to the other.

“What do you think of their matching yankees jerseys?”

“I think, pray and hope to god there are more interesting things on planet earth for us to talk about.”

“Fair enough. My name is Justin. You?”


“I’m going to take a wild guess and assume you’re not interested in me Olive.”

I wasn’t.

Couldn’t be.

Because at the time I was taken. But in act of social valor and the sake of conversation keeping I said

“I guess it depends on your definition of interest. I bet you’d be an interesting person to talk to. Want to talk? I’m willing to take the social gamble.”


We talked for 2 1/2 hours.

Without an ounce of romance or suggestion involved. With a conversation that was chock-full of this: He was 30 years old. A nurse. And if I hadn’t noticed already—black.

“Why did you point out that you’re black?”

“I just wanted to know what you thought of it.”

“I don’t think anything of it.”

“Really? I do.”

“…Okay? What do you think about it?”

 II He paused II 

And said.

“I think people expect less of me because I’m black. And I think racism and sexism still exist today. But. Both ways. Not just on my end of getting the double whammy of being a male nurse who also happens to be black, but also me stereotyping other people by assuming they think superficial things about me. ‘Oh I bet when I tell this girl that I meet at the bar about what I do she’s going to wonder why I didn’t become a doctor. Because that’s what men do, right?’ Either way, someone is stereotyping the other. It’s interesting psychology.”

“Does it bother you?”

“Not necessarily. Because I’ve got the power.”

“The power?”

“Yeah. The power to let it bother me or not bother me. Think those things or not think those things.”

I agreed.

And then we switched topics.

He told me about his girlfriend. They had been together for 6 1/2 years. And counting.

“Olive, would you call me crazy if I told you I didn’t know if she was the one? At least not yet? I still feel like I have time to figure that out…why is that? Why do I feel so comfortable and content with that idea? I’m a 30 year old guy with mediocre accomplishments sprinting

                                                                                                                                       as fast and as far away as I can 

from the American timeline. And I don’t feel stressed out. I really don’t.”

“Yeah I don’t think that’s crazy. I think you should probably tell your girlfriend she might not be the one…since she might be feeling the opposite way…but in general, yeah it’s not crazy. I think it’s rare to not let things like time get to you.”

“How old are you anyway?”


“Jesus. You’re young. Do you even know what I’m saying? Do you ever feel this way?”

“Maybe the most. At least you’ve got a bunch of working ingredients you’re either giving your sign of approval on or reimagining in some way. I’m starting from scratch with strangers in a strange place and a 3% clue as to what I’m doing. I might be a writer. I might not be one. I might stay here 3 months. I may stay here 3 years. It’s a hell of a task.”

“Kind of a cool one though right?”

II And then I paused II 

And said.

“Incredibly cool.”

“Can I buy you a drink?”

 It was 5 am.

And I had a feeling he might ask.

But only because. We had been talking at the bar for 2 1/2 hours.

And suddenly I realized.

I didn’t feel so weird anymore.

He wasn’t my friend. He wasn’t familiar. And I certainly didn’t know where I was.

But I had the power. To make it a good night. Or a weird one. Talk. Or not talk. Listen. Or not listen. Sulk. Or not sulk.

We shared a final drink before I bid Justin goodnight. Hailed a cab. Tucked this memory into my back pocket. And went the hell home.

And when I got back to the dorms, my roommate was curled up in Vinny the cop’s embrace, rolled up in a twin sized bed

on her side of

the room while

Twilight was playing.

The third one.

And even though she was sleeping.

Vinny wasn’t.

“Hi…” I whispered as I snuck in the door.

He gave a slight wave.

As I got in my designated

twin sized bed on my

side of the room.

And then Vinny and I uncomfortably laid in the dark, watching vampires have emotions on

separate               sides

of the room without speaking a word. For entirely…too…long…

The next morning my roommate was having a meltdown.

About a stain on her designer jacket and also wondering where the hell Vinny the cop had gone.

I meant to tell her I saw him sneaking out circa 7am.

But my mind was distracted.

With a lot of things.

Because I was thinking.

And I was thinking a lot.

About the night before. And where I was and what I was doing. And unexpectedly realizing that the only thing I had in common with a 30 year old male nurse…really wasn’t much. But. What we did have in common.

Was pretty great.

We were in completely different people with completely different lives.

Both              out                of our comfort zones.

And both okay with it.

I missed my friends. My routine. My life. But I moved away anyway hoping to make something…anything work. Whether that was pursuing something big, keeping my best damn friendships alive or just saying yes to a drink. And him? He had the stability. The norm. The routine. The plan. The ingredients. But was willing to admit it wasn’t 100% what he wanted. Not yet, at least.

And I guess it made me realize that.

The fire for satisfaction is ageless. 

And pretty doable to achieve.

On any scale big or small.

(New job. Free lunch. Big move. Catching up with friends. Traveling the world. Making super great pasta.)

Because making the decision to go for something. Take care of something. Or even just giving yourself general kudos for trying.

Can be a pretty powerful thing.