The terrace is beautiful and lush, but its 66 square feet don’t allow for much movement or lookout. At dinner, crossing my legs is a challenge and the Japanese grass keeps tickling my back. So once in a while we climb to the roof and picnic there, among satellite dishes, skylights and chimneys, with the wind in our face and the lifeless old windows of the hospital building for our only top neighbors.
The cat comes and joins us after a little coaxing. This is his kingdom and at first, he is reluctant to share it. We sit facing the Orient, spread one kikoi as a seat and another for a table, and we eat our feast watching the sky and the planes and the rising stars. To the west, the New York Harbour basin shines in the vanishing light and we can see ferries dance back and forth between Manhattan and the islands.
The Battery Tunnel building immortalized in Men in Black stands strongly in the center stage, brightly lit and massive. In the background and to the left, a short Lady Liberty tiredly lifts her flame into a world of overwhelming obstacles to her stance.
Not for a minute are we allowed to forget where we are as the invisible BQE highway sends a continuous low-pitch roaring towards us, major player in what we call the New York hum, the ever-present surrounding noise typical of large cities and whose absence strikes us as so incredibly wonderful when we get to such heavenly places as the Namib Desert or Table Mountain.
A few feet behind us is the Farm. Marie’s new horticultural effort has rapidly grown from modest experimental proportions to a full-fledged potager and we are watching with fascinated anticipation as our vegetables grow hurriedly in the summer heat.
Eventually, when night has fallen and our wine dried up, the plates empty and all stomachs content, we squeeze back down the trap door and into the welcoming light of our apartment. The cat follows from the outside, rounding the terrace and glancing nonchalantly at the street below, and he comes into the room with the manners of a king returning from the Crusades, victorious, hungry and tired, and after assessing the fleeting possibility of more food donations, he chooses a sleeping spot for the night and settles in.