This is The Ailene.

A New York story, brought back by Alicia Keys.

It is springtime in New York.

Somewhere around the corner, kids were playing under a fountain and the sunshine was making the water sparkle like diamonds. We had brunch scattered all over the table, and I was cleaning up and bustling around the bright room. He was going to take me to Hoboken (or we’d just come back from Hoboken, record-hunting. It’s been a while and I’d forgotten…), and I tell him to make himself useful and put some music on. So he puts on Alicia Keys and I give him a look, like “are you kidding me?”

We were both blues freaks and instead of the blues he plays Alicia freaking Keys (I got nothing against her, I love her music, but I would’ve thought some happy  Nina Simone would have been more appropriate given where we were and how we met again.) And he goes through my iPod until he finds the song he wants: You Don’t Know My Name.

I whirl around and ask him, “seriously?”

And all he does is lift a hand to the volume, turns it up just as Alicia belts out that”… your loving makes me feel like ooooo-oooohhh.”

And then he smiles at me. The sun shines somewhere behind him. And I can smell New York all around, peaches and trees and exhaust and the Subway fumes and freshly baked bread, and I get it. I get it.

“And it feels like oooo-oooohh–oooh.”

It’s been five years, but every time I hear that song, I’m transported back to New York and spring and Bryant Park and singing as we drive through the tunnels. Being kissed under Grand Central, and sunshine on Hoboken. The rivers and getting lost in Central Park. And magic, when you communicate entirely through songs – and people get it.

I’m glad to know that these stories are not all gone.

Upper East Side

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