One in a Billion

Our taxi was caught in the hectic late afternoon traffic. It ducked and wove around several vehicles. I asked the driver to pull over as I figured we could walk the last 30m and save a dollar or two. A porter swiftly opened the door and politely ushered me out of the cab as Dan fixed the fare. “Good afternoon” he said.

We were a little bit too early, the kind of early which is not ok when you’re meeting someone new. We casually perched ourselves on the sill of the hotel facade waiting for that awkward timing to pass.

I decided that just like an orchestra conductor Dan would give me my queues for the next 2 hours. He eventually stood up and started pacing towards our final destination. I followed. He triple checked the number and looked up the building obliquely. He pushed through the revolving door. I followed.

Daniel announced to the building concierge who we were there to see.

“Floor 27” the concierge instructed.

The elevator doors dinged open and we stepped into the enclosed box with a small black leather, white trimmed seat in the corner. We were greeted by a small pale yellow foyer with marble floors, a mirror on one wall and a painting on the opposite. Dan pressed the doorbell and stepped back. A slight, softly spoken man dressed in grey pants, a green jumper and polished brown shoes invited us in. His name was Geoffrey. The polished white marble floors continued into the apartment’s foyer as it opened into a luxurious series of rooms. I turned to my right, and there it was, the breathtaking view.

I only managed to catch a quick glimpse till Geoffrey interrupted.

“What can I get you to drink?”

“A water will be fine for me thank you.”

Dan and I idled around the front door.

Geoffrey noticed out lostness and cordially said “please, make yourselves at home; Mark will be with you in a moment.”

We walked through a smaller room with a white dining set and hooked a right into a spacious triple height ceiling room. The walls were a pale yellow with a plain cornice at the top. Two sets of seating arrangements brought about some confusion as we worked out where to sit. Thankfully, a slightly stooped old man appeared and put us out of our misery.

“Dan! Good to see you again.”

“Nice to see you Mark, this is Ashleigh, she used to work at our office.”

“Pleased to meet you Mark,” I said dutifully as I firmly shook his hand.

“Please, take a seat.” He gestured towards the larger sofa set.

Mark was taller and larger than I expected, maybe over 6 foot in his younger days and was dressed in a charcoal grey suit. He filled the dark sea blue armchair closest to him, and Dan the matching one opposite. I was left with the sprawling yellow sofa that had such plush cushions that completely swallowed me as I sat down,

“Thank y'all for coming” said Mark.

“Thank you for the invitation” said Dan.

Conversation progressed and after 2 minutes Geoffrey stopped by with a silver tray of drinks. He carefully laid down two pristine white square doilies followed by our drinks.

“I’ll have a red wine thank you Geoffrey; another one of the one that was opened the other night.” Mark drawled.

“So I understand you’re a big fan of art.” began Dan.

As Mark spoke about his collection of art it gave me the opportunity to look more closely around the room. He pointed out six Picassos, two Matisses and a Diebenkorn that he was having trouble offloading.

He joked about a suggestive Dali that had been relegated to the guest bathroom because his late wife found it too offensive to hang publicly.

Talk of actual business was scarce, and much of the conversation was directed towards property in my homeland. Excitement levels grew as Dan and Mark figured out they had a mutual connection over farm land. Intriguing. Conversation for the next hour was consumed by Mark’s scholarship, upcoming leaders, donations and funds. I wasn’t really sure what to make of it all.

In a timely manner Dan glanced down at his watch and proclaimed that we’d taken enough of Mark’s time and we needed to make tracks.

However, Mark insisted that we must see the terrace before we left.

“Please come see the terrace.”

Not going to lie. I was pretty excited.

Mark opened the glass french door and bear his big fluffy white dog pushed his way out, Dan and I followed.

Before us lay central park dead centre, enclosed by the buildings of New York. It was extraordinary. It was truly the view of one in a billion.


That evening I thought long and hard about our visit. I managed to work out why I was invited.