I’ve been back from New York for over two weeks already. I keep meaning to sit down and write this post and somehow it never gets done. A great pile of things I mean to do or need to do and somehow they never get done. Which is how things are these days, I suppose, and nothing to do but get used to it, get better at it. Learn to love the to-do list. Or somesuch. No matter how overwhelming. All of these things that are overwhelming are things I asked for, things I wanted (and want) desperately. And so what else is there for it, yeah?
Anyway… Yeah, so I went to New York to promote The Revolution of Every Day at Book Expo America. And it was good. Oh, my friends, it was very good.
I hadn’t been home in two years. Yes, I live in Portland now, have done so since September 2007. But New York is home. I know that now. I think I was a little hazy on it before this trip, wasn’t sure where, exactly, I belong. I can now report back as follows:
I belong in Portland, but New York is home. New York will always be home. City of my birth, city of my heart. All that. I walked through the familiar old streets and felt the city in my bones in a way I don’t think I will ever feel Portland. Which is not to denigrate Portland. But it doesn’t buzz through me in the same way, can’t possibly. I was never three years old in Portland. I was never twenty-three years old in Portland. I’m rootless here in Oregon, in some of the most fundamental ways.
And still, I love it here. And still, it’s the right place for our family.
And New York, my beloved hated home, has changed so much and is no longer the place we would want to raise our family (a longer story there, and I’m working on an essay about it; stay tuned). So there’s that.
But for a week I was there without Billy and without the kids, and I was completely myself without dependents again, as I’d been for most of my time in New York before. And I had productive meetings and a great time signing galleys at BEA and a successful reading, and I saw nearly all of my closest friends and family, and it just couldn’t have gone better than it did. It was interesting, though, to be in the city again without Billy and the kids, to be rushing around to various publishing-related activities and so basically around the same people I’d worked with back then (including seeing my favorite past boss at BEA!) and seeing the same friends I’d always seen back then, then going home to an empty Manhattan apartment (my generous mother-in-law’s, as she was in Portland helping Billy with the kids). And so I got a glimpse of what my life would have been if I hadn’t gotten married and had kids, if I’d stayed in Manhattan and kept working in publishing. And you know what? As wonderful as it was to be with my friends and have that freedom of movement and to have that apartment to myself at the end of a long day, it was, ultimately, pretty empty. I missed the noise and the mess and the need of Billy and the kids. So there’s also that. It’s comforting to leave your crazy overwhelming life for a while and find that you actually prefer it.
The event at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) was absolutely amazing, though not without some snags. The museum is located in the storefront of C-Squat, one of the last remaining squats on the Lower East Side. We’d originally planned the event for the basement performance space, which is part of the squat rather than the museum, but which we’ve always been able to use for events without problem. (I say “we” as a member of the museum collective, though my participation in most events is remote support, since I volunteer from Portland of course.) The backspace is larger and visually cooler than the storefront space, but more important it is thermally much cooler, since it’s the basement. It was in the high nineties that week in New York. As it turned out, we couldn’t use the backspace of C-Squat because…well…someone was squatting in it. Heh.
And so the museum storefront it was. We had a crowd of 50+ in that small space, standing room only and people sitting at our feet as we read. The single portable AC unit and the fans we brought in just weren’t up to the task and it was impossibly hot and sweaty. But people stayed, sweating it out to the very end! I’m so grateful for that. And it was such an honor to be there with Frank Morales and Fly and Peter Spagnuolo. (Look for Peter in an upcoming Writer, with Kids post. He’s one of my new favorite humans.)
Now I’m settled back in Portland, wrangling kids and the house and the writing and the pre-publication work, only slightly homesick for New York. Eager to get back in October for the book launch! Things are shaping up in that regard. Details soon!