Susan's Blog

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Old Friend

Old friends
Sat on the park bench like book ends.
–Simon and Garfunkel

Appearance is a funny and misleading thing. I visited an old college friend in New York this weekend, because I was giving a talk and I needed a place to stay. This is a guy who was actually so dear to us that he was one of the ushers in our wedding party. He was one of my favorite people in my dorm way back when. Ned’s too. He could imitate Mick Jagger and many others — and so could I — and that was something we used to do often into the late hours of the morning. For my birthday once he rented “Funny Girl,” my favorite movie, and gave a viewing for all of our friends in his dorm room, where he had a VCR (no one owned those back then!) and a large t.v. Another time, he got us all to watch “The Shining,” a movie that had scared the crap out of me the year before (freshman year), and he got me to appreciate it and even laugh at it. Ned and I had so many great times with him.

He and his partner own an apartment in the Dakota, and when he invited me to stay with them, I was very excited. I was also surprised by how intimidated I felt at first! Partly because I am not used to staying with friends without Ned, because it has been decades since I hung out with this friend for so long, but also because of his amazing digs and lifestyle. I am a creature of comfort, I love beautiful things, and I get kind of swept away by fame sometimes, I’ll admit it. And this place! The apartment itself, the square footage, is bigger than my house. Same era as my house, a time of heavy dark woodwork, large spaces, high ceilings, sumptuous fittings everywhere. A shower bigger than my entire bathroom at home. First apartment building on that part of Manhattan. John Lennon lived there. Yoko Ono still does. Central Park, literally across the street, is the view from most rooms.

I was full of excitement and a little dread over all the glamor, but I got back to my old feeling with him, however, within minutes. We walked a little in the park, and then had a fun dinner in Trump International Tower. It was a heady feeling being there, too, in this restaurant where celebrities dine, and where everyone knew my friend. But in the end it was just a good place to eat, very friendly and warm, not at all snobby. Later we walked home in the light rain. Tons of people going places, because it was Saturday night in New York.

I think one of the best moments was waking up, my heavily shuttered enormous window open slightly to the sounds of the rising city on a Sunday, the sun lighting up the trees below; each one seemed to be a different shade of green. I felt like Eloise. My friend was in the kitchen making a pot of coffee and emptying his dishwasher. Sitting with him and talking during my favorite time of day before doing one of my favorite things (give a talk) was just bliss. It is just so bittersweet to reunite with an old, old friend and see what is the same and what is different. I was so happy for him, to see him, to get to know his partner and see how well-matched they were, finishing each others’ sentences, laughing so much, having New York at their feet. But it was, in the end, the same old guy.

When I walked outside to catch a cab, there were tourists photographing the building. I was standing in the front gates with my sunglasses on waiting for the cab and some of the tourists were looking at me. I have to admit I felt kind of like a star at that moment, but little did they know — it was only me, on my way to Queens!


Wow, I love your lifestyle sometimes. Such a city girl. You took me somewhere this morning. I really needed to go there at this moment, too. “…and I said what about breakfast at Tiffany’s..” 🙂 -Tina G.

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 7:57 am

Hi Tina!
I remember that song! I hope all is well with you guys, Chance, and the baby.

— added by Susan Senator on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 8:44 am

Jetsetting with the New Yorkers!

Little did those picture taking tourists know of the literary talent that walked by them 🙂

— added by Someone Said on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 9:40 am

Yes, I’m sure all the tourists thought you were Yoko Ono–don’t you wish!

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 10:18 am

Ah…the Dakota…it doesn’t get any better than that, my cousin lives there, (and I delivered mail for 18 years, go figure)
There is just no place like NYC! My oldest son (just turned 24) has moved up there, he landed a great job and a girlfriend who goes to NYU for animation!!!! Just the perfect artsy enviroment for him. Do I sound jealous? YES I AM!!!!But I get to visit and thats the good part! Thanks for sharing!

— added by Eileen on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 10:25 am

So cool. My husband spent some time in that building, and bumped into Lauren Bacall in the hallway. Wow – you might just be a star, I just hope you’ll remember us little people. Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 11:41 am

I’ll be calling about the new book very soon, btw.

— added by Susan Senator on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Oh, Susan. You don’t need to brush elbows with celebrities, eat in fancy restaurants, nor have tourists stare at you in wonderment.

You’re a touchstone for more people than I’d be willing to bet you realize (and, even if you do, you’d brush it off with a hearty p’shaw).

— added by Don on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 9:34 pm


— added by Susan Senator on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 9:41 pm