She produced a few battered sheets of paper, folded into quarters, and put them at the center of the table.
"Is that your diary?" Akash asked.
"Oh, shut it. It's our lists!" Payal said.
"I don't think I've been with that many people," Akash said.
She shot him a glare. "We made these lists the summer we graduated, remember? All the things we wanted to do in New York."
Payal unfolded each sheet of paper, examined the name at the top, and handed it out to the appropriate friend. They spent a few moments in silence examining their lists before looking up.
"Well?" Akash asked. "Did we do everything we expected?"
"Yes." Sonam turned her list around. On it was written: BUCKET LISTS ARE STUPID.
They all laughed.
"I did them all," Akash said, a hint of pride in his voice. "Visit the Empire State Building. Road trip across the country. Have a threesome. Eat at Eleven Madison Park—"
"You ate there? Really? It's, like, $300 a meal," Sonam interrupted.
"When I got my last promotion at work, I may or may not have splurged."
"I've done almost everything too." Payal skimmed her paper. "I went to all the major landmarks. I worked at New York Fashion Week twice. I've eaten at five restaurants owned by celebrity chefs... Except for falling in love, which, let's be real, might not exist, I've done it all."
"Gosh, I've only done a few of these," Kiran said, glancing at her list again and feeling a stab of disappointment.
She'd done a few classic New York tourist things when she'd moved to the city, excited to be in a new place, and often with someone from the CMC with her—Empire State Building, a boat ride on the Hudson, a Broadway play. But the other ones...not so much. Ride a horse—not yet. Dance under the stars—not done yet. Do a macaroni and cheese tour. Go to Smorgasburg every summer. Play in an arcade—nope. Find a way to reunite Kirti with Ma and Baba—her
"Which ones?" Payal tried to peer at her paper.
"I went to Smorgasburg the first summer we moved here, but haven't been since."
"You order mac and cheese everywhere, so you've essentially managed a tour," Akash said, spying that item on her list.
"Kiran, you're the only one who hasn't come close to finishing hers. Get on it. We're turning thirty soon. We should be able to say we lived our twenties to the fullest," Payal said.
Thirty. The number felt daunting all of a sudden, like Kiran had to speed through all her goals before she crossed some proverbial threshold where she couldn't anymore.
"I agree," she said. "Maybe these should be the before-thirty list since it's been so long since we moved here...and we can add a few things and try to do them all."
"Okay, let's do it," said Sonam.
The other three looked at her in surprise.
"You literally just showed us a list that said lists are stupid," Akash said.
"Well...things change. It could be fun."
"What would be the first thing on your new before-thirty lists?" Payal asked.
Sonam leaned back, seeming to consider her answer. Kiran frowned, thinking of her family. Akash spoke first.
"I'd like to fall in love and get married."
"Really?" Payal asked. "The serial dater wants to settle down?"
"It's kind of nice to think about coming home to someone and knowing they're yours to share a life with," Akash replied.