There are people in this world who, if you don’t like them, there’s something wrong with you. I have met three in my life. One of them is Stephen Chan.
Stephen and I met almost 10 years ago at our university on the first day of his freshman orientation, when I was an orientation counselor. We have not been able to get rid of each other since.
Any nice thing I try to write about Stephen will be an understatement, so I don’t know if I should bother trying. I will say he is so kind, hardworking, patient, warm, and genuine he makes me want to be a better human and that will have to do. His fiancé Jesse is a lucky man.
When Stephen is not a Product Manager at advertising technology company LiveIntent, he seeks to fill his life with even more creativity. He has recently taken up playwriting, sitting for hours at Caff
We meet at Caff Bene on a cloudy Saturday, a salute to his favorite place to write. “Do you like kombucha?” he asks me. I’ve only had it once or twice, but I affirm. We sip first pomegranate then ginger versions and talk about the future. Is it supposed to be smelly once you get to the bottom of the glass?
We walk down Avenue A to thrift store Buffalo Exchange. Stephen smiles mischievously at a shirt that says “Let’s Get Drunk” and another with a drawing of a bald Britney Spears, the phrase “It’s Britney, Bitch” underneath. Eventually, he makes other selections and heads to the dressing rooms.
The first shirt he tries on is a baseball-style shirt with “Boston” printed on it. Stephen was born just outside of the city. The shirt looks good, but it will stay in the store. “I think it’s too butch for me,” he says, amused. He ultimately chooses a pair of white shorts and black shirt that says “This is what a feminist looks like” in white letters.
We leave and try to walk down the west side of Avenue A, but are diverted by a closure on St. Marks for the New York Dance Parade. We cross over to the east side of the street by Tompkins Square Park, where the parade empties out, and get lost in a sea of young dancers in aqua sequins and tulle waiting to be picked up by their parents. I make it out first, but Stephen gets stuck and the side-eye he throws me makes me burst into fits of laughter.
We finally arrive at bar Amor y Amargo and order some expertly made cocktails. Stephen chooses the Renaissance Man, a drink the menu tells us is “earthy with rhubarb and smoke.” He sips and swoons, pausing to really savor it. We sit and talk even more this time, effortlessly, the way we always have.
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