New York Weekend Adventure
Flying to New York (from Raleigh, NC) for a book pub party is my idea of a good time.
I did it once before, accompanying writer buddy Dan Wakefield to the celebration at Carnegie Hall of Frank Conroy's novel Body and Soul. (And then Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church held a reading/reception when my first novel Revelation came out.) But both of those were years ago.
Obviously it was time for another celebration: this time for my friend Angela Davis-Gardner's lovely new novel Butterfly's Child, the gathering to be hosted by writer, editor, book club guru Mickey Pearlman, simultaneously celebrating Rachel DeWoskin and her new book Big Girl Small.
Regular readers here likely remember my "bonus life" of 18 days in New York last summer; my apartment-sitting tenure during which I quickly played out my Plan B life as a New York writer. Based on that experience, I'd foolishly thought that this trip I knew how to get around the city. Here's where the adventure came in.
The party was just across the Hudson from Manhattan, in New Jersey. I'd made a point during the summer of doing some exploring in each of the five boroughs. But hadn't been by bus to New Jersey. Again, foolishly, I figured it was just a matter of showing up at a stop and the bus would be along in a few minutes.
But on Saturday, shortly before the party, I decided, just to be sure, to call and check. Sure enough, the last bus of the day for my destination was leaving soon. In my rush to get to the Port Authority to catch it, I tripped over the treacherously outreaching foot of a bicycle stand, and hit the pavement face down. A woman with a maybe-Italian accent paused to make sure I was okay; I'd bumped her on my way to the ground. I was okay except for the unsightly damage to my black hose and my left shoe. This was a problem: I no longer looked party-worthy.
But I rushed on and, with a new pair of hose in my pocketbook, I made the bus with 6 minutes to spare. I planned to go straight to the powder room as soon as I got there and refurbish.
The bus took a full hour, depositing me at the very dot of 3 pm, the time I meant to get there. I arrived at the door, thinking I might be among the very first guests. But no, I had the time wrong (my fault entirely) and the party had started two hours earlier. So I walked in on the formal program part of the affair, everyone listening to the two presenting authors.
The only empty chair was in the center next to the two speakers and required my stepping over and around others to get there, still in my awful hosiery and shoe, all the while murmuring apologies. Also, the hand that broke my fall was starting to swell.
Our hostess told the group, "She just got off the bus." As if that alone could account for the state I was in.
Angela, whom I'd interrrupted, introduced me to the audience, as I continued muttering apology. The other speaker, Rachel, I then remembered, was not only a novelist but a former TV star in China, playing in the mid-nineties on a wildly popular nighttime soap opera called Foreign Babes in Beijing. Both of them looked serenely lovely and calm. And I had not refreshed in the powder room, did not feel like a butterfly or a TV star. Oh, well.
As it turned out, I had a really good time. It was a terrific party. I met Angela's editor at Dial and several other very interesting folks, gazed out on an extraordinary view of Hudson River and the island of Manhattan, and partook of the sumptuous buffet of goodies that could have served a large wedding. Made it back to Manhattan, happily riding with other party-goers on the return bus.
Reminder to self: Keep going and get there, even if there are runs in your hose.
From Mickey's kitchen: I'm a great fan of that bold color, cobalt blue.