I wrote this two years ago

by Teresa Finney

And as I’m getting ready to go back to New York after being gone for two and a half months, it still really rings true for me.

“I got this for you”, Marivel said. She put a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne on the kitchen counter. 

“For me?” 

“For you,” she said.

The Christmas party was booming by that time. The tree was decorated NOLA style, with purple and green lights. Four peacock feathers stuck out of the branches making it the chicest and/or craziest looking Christmas tree I’d ever seen. Party guests mingled in the garage that was the home of the now infamous open bar. In the kitchen whipping up desserts and snacks, opening more bottles of wine. Drinking more bottles of wine. In the dining room sampling the 100% homemade “Around the World” menu, everything from latkes, to pizza, to sushi, to samosas, to enchiladas. 

I was holding the champagne bottle, completely mesmerized by the label like I am known to do, when I saw Shawna’s eyes widen. 

“I’ll take that!” she said as she snatched the bottle out of my hands. “Come with me,” she said, directing Marivel and I to her room. 

“I don’t want anyone but us to drink this bottle. Let’s have a toast to NYU,” she explained.

“Wait! Let me grab my mom and Taryn”, I said. I wanted them to have the moment with me. 

When I got back, two other people whom I had only met that night had joined the private party. They came with cups, so Shawna said it was okay for them to be there. 

The toast itself was quick, right to the point. One person who came with the cups gasped when he heard ‘NYU’. “Woooooow!” he said with an excited and drunken elongation of the vowel. 

We talked about not being snobbish about living in Brooklyn. Talked scholarships and grants vs. loans. We talked about me not wanting my mother to come and visit right away (was I joking? I’ll never tell.) We talked about how fast March would get here. My mother thanked Shawna and Marivel for writing my letters of recommendation for me, and it was around this time that the tears came. They weren’t full-on crying tears; they were polite tears that just hung onto the corners of my eyes, making the room and my loved ones a bit blurry. I remembered to pause and take it all in. 

I am the most proud of myself when I remember to savor what is happening around me. When I remember to live in the moment. To take a deep breath. There are things I want to take with me to New York that don’t go in a suitcase.