Update from New York

Hi!

I’m cozied up on a bed by the window, watching the snow come down outside and taking a moment to reflect on the last couple of days. Life right now just continues to be surreal and emotional. There have been so many layers of this whole book thing, and coming here to New York has made it seem more real than ever.

Snow

(Union Square, earlier today)

Last night I had dinner with my agent and editor, neither of which I had ever met. They are both wonderful women and we shared a lengthy meal (and a couple bottles of wine) at a lovely little place in Tribeca.

This morning Greg and I woke up to a snow storm, and to the news that our flight tomorrow morning had already been cancelled. I’m so happy to be on this trip, and to have time away with my handsome husband, but I’m feeling more stressed than ever about being away from Veronica. Learning that we might not make it home until Friday has caused me tears on several different occasions today.

After haggling with the airline people and getting rebooked for a later flight tomorrow, Greg and I set out for some breakfast before our big day. We walked down Houston to Mott Street where we drank strong coffee and ate the most delicious almond croissants at Cafe Gitane. We watched the snow come down outside the window and talked about all the ways our lives are changing right now. I marveled at how I was sitting there in a cafe I once reviewed for Time Out NY, ten years ago.

Coming back to New York never ceases to flood me with a thousand memories. I moved here when i was 19 and it was such an identity-shaping experience. I was so nervous and insecure when I first stepped foot on these streets, but eventually I learned how to hail taxis and cross the street before the light changed, how to hop the subways, where to shop and how to find my own New York style. Everything about that experience took effort and felt earned, and coming back 10 years later I still feel proud knowing how to be in New York.

After breakfast I walked Greg to his big, important meetings and then I set off for the Penguin offices. I think that walking into that building and standing in the lobby, under the Penugin emblem was the moment that this whole thing finally began to feel real. While I waited for my editor I scanned the books in the glass case by the receptionist’s desk and I got teary-eyed feeling so honored and humbled and grateful that I will soon be included among all these authors and books I’ve long revered.

Then my editor Denise retrieved me and everything went back to feeling normal. She’s already like an old friend, and we gabbed away as we walked through the offices to meet with the rest of the team. We sat in a bright office with the snow swirling down outside the windows and went over all the details of the next year before my book comes out and I left an hour later, happy and excited.

Greg was still in meetings, so I went by myself to Union Square where I had a celebratory glass of champagne at the restaurant where I worked when I lived here. I even still knew the bartender and he caught me up on all the people I used to work with. As I sipped my drink I leaned back against the bar and looked around the restaurant. It’s still one of the most familiar places in the world to me, even though it’s been 7 years since I worked there. I think it’s just that I spent SO much time there that it became etched in my being.

As I stood, sipping champagne, I could so clearly see myself at age 20, in the exact same spot, waiting tables over ten years ago. I remembered what it felt like to lean against the wall during slow moments and think about my life and what I wanted for it. Even back then I dreamed of writing a book, and I used to look around the restaurant and silently remind myself that I wouldn’t be here forever.

Today I felt like I was revisiting that 20-year-old self, and telling her that she was right. That she really would get all the things she wanted, that life wouldn’t aways be so hard, that she wouldn’t always feel so sad or alone. That one day in the near-future she would be happy and pretty and living a life full of love and good friends and a little family to call her own.

I can’t think of a more wonderful moment to have had.

22 comments

22 Comments

  • Posted January 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful post – it feels so nice to be along this ride of bringing the book together with you – it will make reading it all the more special.

  • Posted January 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    What an incredible experience you earned.

  • Kerry
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Claire, if you end up staying another day, perhaps you could meet Liz out. She’s who brought me to your blog in the first place and I’m looking forward to seeing her tomorrow during her NYC trip.

  • Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had a copy of Tillie Olsen’s _Silences_, purchased seven years and 3000 miles ago, that I have never opened until today, while eating a bowl of phở tai. Within the first pages I was thinking of you, cheering your success. Brava!

  • Wendy
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely moment to have as you come to the culmination of one of your dreams!

  • Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    That truly is a wonderful moment. Looking forward to one of those someday soon, complete with champagne and memories. Cheers!

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I’ve only just recently started reading your blog, but felt so excited for you reading this post. Sending you so many congratulations!

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Aw, thank you so much!!

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Dont stop believing! Youll get there!

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    It really, really was. Thank, Wendy!

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Oh, Ill have to pick it up then! Thanks for thinking of me!

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Im missing her by MINUTES! Its killing me!! She is my favorite person in the whole world.

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    It really is. Thank you!

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Aw, thank you so much!

  • Christine
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m really enjoying having insights into these moments Claire. What a great thing to do – stand in your old bar and reflect. Thank you for sharing!

  • Posted January 27, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    you may not realize this, but, you have truly inspired me. thank you!

  • Helene
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Welcome back! I have a request-post that twitter pic of Greg :-)so everyone can see it-would make a great post. The one covered in snow-that was awesome! :-)Chicago doesn’t seem so bad now
    I loved reading about NY, you were living what I had always hoped to and never will. I hope to get there one day, with or without meetings with an editor.

  • Posted January 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Hoping you get there too! (Heres a link to all the snow photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13897054@N04/sets/72157625799828389/)

  • Posted January 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Oh, thats nice to hear! Thank you!

  • Posted January 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Aw, thanks!

  • Posted January 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Great shot of Union Square =)

  • Posted January 29, 2011 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Thanks! I love, love Union Square. Feel like I spent half of my twenties. there.

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