Visiting the city was fantastic. Loved that nobody is stumbling around the Frick taking phone photos like they do at the Met. Loved walking through Central Park every day. Loved staying with an old friend who I am now going to model a character in the novel on, who demanded we take a walk in a nor’easter — preparing me by strapping a Paddington Bear hat under my chin — so I could get a sense of the neighborhood. I slept in this room:
And quietly waking would pass through the huge apartment on my way to the kitchen and spy this as I sipped my tea as the sun rose over the river. Which river? I don’t know!
One night my friend took me to dine at her husband’s club (and since I am used to a certain amount of discretion from living and working in Hollywood, it shall remain nameless) — that was lovely — so collegial, so steeped in history and the city… No pictures as they take your coat and purse in the cloakroom. The paintings in the dining room were night scenes of Manhattan on a mammoth scale, all blue, and the glow of golden incandescent light against the silhouette of an architectural canyon – a little WPA, a little Ashcan, a little Rockwell Kent, gorgeous, and I think they were modern.
How did I cross from Los Angeles to New York? By rail. I loved taking the train. I loved seeing this from my window:
On the train I met pastors, an octogenarian translating the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, into a narrative/historical form, retired lunchroom ladies, romance authors, coders, and even a marathoner from Australia on his way to compete in New York this Sunday.
I loved sitting down to dinner with strangers because no matter how different our outlook, our backgrounds, our beliefs, or our political stance, we found accord at the table. It’s very primal. It goes back to one of the things I think is most basic and most heartening in our natures, finding connection while breaking bread. If there were a political movement where people shared a meal once a month under similar circumstances it might solve a lot of problems. As it was it reminded me that humanity isn’t really so bad.
And while I’m on the subject of what is best in our natures — what brings us together, and what will define our future — don’t forget (if you haven’t already) to vote on Tuesday.