When I moved to New York in 2002, my first apartment was a 2-bedroom in a rat-infested 5th floor walk up on the Lower East Side — at Allen and Delancey, to be specific. My first roommate, found via Craigslist, was an aspiring opera singer who barely lasted a month, ending up in one of the psychiatric wards at Bellevue after she stopped taking the heavy anti-depressants she had been prescribed. So yeah, that was a fun welcome to New York experience!
Anyway, after the aspiring opera singer’s family came up to take her and her things back home to Atlanta, I found a new roommate, a chef who’d just taken a job working in the kitchen at the hot new restaurant around the corner, WD-50. Her name was Vivian. She and I lived together for a year or so before she decided to relocate to Brooklyn to move in with her boyfriend, Ben. We stayed in contact off and on for a little while, but then eventually lost touch in the way that people lost touch before social media came along and forced us to remain friends with everyone forever. Over the years since, I’d think of her occasionally and wonder what became of her, how her life turned out.
Fast forward to a few days ago and I’m on an Amtrak train, flipping through the new issue of Garden and Gun, when suddenly I run across a profile of Vivian in the magazine (sadly, it does not appear to be available online). Turns out, she and Ben moved back to her hometown in rural North Carolina where together they opened a restaurant, Chef & the Farmer, and have built an amazing farmhouse. Another delightful surprise I learned from reading the G&G piece is that Vivian is the subject of a documentary series on PBS titled, “A Chef’s Life.” So I guess she turned out alright!
I’m planning on paying she and Ben a visit soon so we can catch up and laugh about dodging rats in the stairwell of the Lower East Side tenement building we lived together in a decade ago. I’m looking very forward to it.