One night last year I called my friend Oliver and told him to meet me on the roof of our apartment building. He lives three flights down from me. I had pulled together a simple dinner — roast chicken, good bread, olives, cherries, wine. We ate at a picnic table. I’d forgotten wineglasses, so we traded swigs out of the bottle. It was summer. The sun was setting on the Hudson. Neighbors were enjoying themselves at nearby tables. The breeze was nice. The surrounding cityscape looked like a stage set for a musical.
What is the opposite of a perfect storm? That is what this was, one of those rare moments when the world seems to shed all shyness and display every possible permutation of beauty. Oliver said it well as we took up our plates and began heading back downstairs: “I’m glad I’m not dead.” This came out rather loudly, as he is a bit deaf. Even so, he looked surprised by his own utterance, as if it were something he was feeling but didn’t really mean to say aloud — a thought turned into an exclamation.
“I’m glad you’re not dead, too,” said a neighbor gaily, taking up the refrain. “I’m glad we’re all not dead,” said another. There followed a spontaneous raising of glasses on the rooftop, a toast to the setting sun, a toast to us.
Causes Bill Hayes Supports
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative