As a child I had one primary ambition, which was to leave New Jersey and move to New York. It wasn’t that New Jersey was so bad, in fact, the Jersey suburbs are a terrific place to raise children. My small town was safe and there was a nearby lake with a waterfall, and I could ride my bike to school, and it wasn’t until years later that I realized the people who lived in a compound in my neighborhood, on a very large plot of land, were probably organized crime figures.
While growing up, I never divided the world into gay people and straight people, but into people who lived in New Jersey and people who lived in New York. Of course, once I grew up and actually moved to Manhattan, I discovered that all sorts of people lived in New York, which is pretty much the entire point of New York.
What I was looking forward to was a place of infinite possibilities, and taxis. From all the movies I’d watched and the books I’d read, New York seemed like a place where everyone lived in apartments and had all sorts of friends and wildly varied careers, while wearing interesting clothes and holding opinions about everything. All of this turned out to be true, plus you can watch couples screaming insults at each other on the street, which you can’t really do in more rural areas, where when couples fight, you can probably only overhear the distant sound of gunshots.
It’s August, when the city can grow empty, as people head for the beach; of course, when people say that New York is empty, they really mean that the people who can afford to buy or rent beach houses have left, often via helicopter. But I love New York in August, because over the past few days alone, I have done the following:
I attended a delightful party held on the rooftop of the Scholastic building in Soho, filled with writers and editors and all of the terrific people who work at Scholastic, which published my first Young Adult novel, Gorgeous. Scholastic has by far the most shockingly welcoming atmosphere I’ve ever encountered. At some companies, even in the elevators you can sense the prison-colony gloom, but Scholastic is the opposite. Everyone there seems to genuinely love what they do, plus there’s a truly impressive gift shop in the lobby, and a very large version of Clifford the Big Red Dog.
I went to the Duplex to see a performance by Jeffrey and Cole, a wonderful comic team who had their own show on Logo. They’re both fantastically funny and limber, and the crowd adored them.
I went to the tailor to have a jacket altered, where while I waited, I got to do one of my favorite things, which is to watch strangers try on their outfits in the many full-length mirrors, as the tailor used straight pins to make their skirts and blazers and jeans fit flawlesly. It’s a moment of anxious vanity, as people reveal which body parts they’d like concealed or emphasized.
I did other things too, but in order to reassure my superb and impatient editor, I was mostly working on my new book, because working on a new book is an excellent way to spend August in the city.