NYC Trip Day 2: I Read Banned Books

On Thursday, day two of my EPIC NYC TRIP, I was awoken from a blissful slumber by a lovely text message. It was my friend Paul, asking when and where we were going to meet up. I met Paul at my very first audition, when I was thirteen and he was twenty-one. As soon as my mom and I got there and sat behind him, he turned around to talk to me. I thought he was the coolest person I’d ever met, with his actor-y look and his awesome ear piercing that I thought of getting for many years afterward but was also to chicken to actually do. I was also too chicken to stay at the audition. At one point, I got so nervous that I stood to leave, and Paul stopped me and told me to stay, that’d I’d be fine. We ended up being cast in the same ten-minute play a few days later. Almost nine years later, we’re still friends and he now lives in New York. We decided to meet at a Starbucks in Chelsea at eleven. Once we managed to find two seats in the place (no small feat in a New York City Starbucks; there is one one every corner, but they’re always full. New Yorkers like their caffeine; it’s why they walk so fast), we got down to our socializing. It was really, really nice. We haven’t seen each other in person for over two years, but we picked right up where we left off, talking acting and playwriting and New York living and many other things. Like Molly, Paul asked when I was moving to NYC, and I have to say, both of them made me want to pack my bags that minute.

Around 12:30, Paul had to head to work, and I was near enough to Libba Bray’s booksigning location that I decided to stay in the area until it began at six. Molly had told me about an awesome bookstore four blocks away from the Starbucks, so I headed in that direction… and got lost for about forty-five minutes. Though I have a terrible sense of direction, it wasn’t completely my fault; that part of the city is… rounder than the parts in which I usually spend my time. But finally I found it, and it was just as amazing as she had promised- four stories of books, new and used, and other beautiful items like postcards and bags and t-shirts, the latter of which I bought- a cool one that says “I Read Banned Books” with the flames made up of “scandalous” authors and book titles.

After I grabbed a very late lunch and walked around a bit more, I went to Books of Wonder where Libba Bray’s signing was, to hang out and read for a bit before it started. Then it was six and the AUTHORS ARRIVED! In addition to Libba,  there were six other YA authors who have new books. I had never heard of five of them, but they were all so funny and great to listen to. I was one of about five people that got to ask a question, and I asked Libba about how she handled the giant cast of characters in her books. Her short answer: “Not well.” She expanded and quoted Ray Bradbury and was, in general, completely amazing. Then came the signing, and I was first in line. I had planned all these things I wanted to say to her, but as she sat there signing my book, as well as my friend Kaitlin’s, I could only blurt, “I LOVE THE DIVINERS!” She thanked me, said she liked my red tights, and asked if she’d answered my question. I assured her she had and told her that I was a longtime fan and that Kaitlin has cast herself as Evie in the movie version of The Diviners, and then Libba talked to me about writing the screenplay for the movie. “It’s like math!” she exclaimed. Then she asked me where I went to college and was so so awesome. I love her so much.

I left the signing right after I got Libba’s inscription and headed for my bus location. I had bought a ticket for the 10:30 bus, but was hoping to get a standby seat on an earlier bus, which meant that I could call off Beth from pick-up duty. But when I got there, the standby line was huge, and the last bus before my scheduled ride was full. The girl behind me, with whom I had been conversing, was very distressed and went to get some food. When she came back, I was sitting on the sidewalk, reading and she came over to me. “There’s a Megabus leaving in fifteen minutes five blocks away. Want to come?” I said yes, and we hurried over to the other bus stop. The bus was pretty empty, and they only charged us $15 for a seat, which was less than I had planned to give Beth, some for gas but also some for gratitude. So my new friend and I hopped on the bus. I considered sitting alone, as is my custom, but I thought it would be rude to ditch my adventure buddy, and she was very happy I sat next to her because I let her charge her phone with my computer.

I returned to Philadelphia and my adventure buddy wished me safe travels and I caught the train back to my car. The whole way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about how relaxed and happy- like, incandescently happy- I felt and how I loved everything and everyone. These last few weeks have been really hard, emotionally, and I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I felt as good as I did on Thursday night. For a few weeks now, I’ve had the ridiculous notion that I have no friends, which I know and knew was not true, but nothing could convince me otherwise. But between meeting up with Molly and Paul and both of them being so great, and Beth being able to pick me up, and Stuart calling just to say hi Thursday afternoon, I was feeling very loved. And while I decided while traveling in Europe that  it’s much better to travel with someone (seeing awesome stuff has much less thrill when you have no one to share it with), and it would have been fun to share the concert or the signing with a friend, I’m actually glad I went by myself. I think I needed two days to do things on my own time- meeting up with friends I haven’t seen in a long time, going to bookshops and listening to music… I think it was just what I needed to recover from my terrible few weeks.

Unfortunately, I’ve started to slip back into how I felt pre-NYC, which before I didn’t count as unhappiness, but compared to how I felt Thursday night, it’s not happiness. I don’t know what is missing from my life that is making me feel this way, but I wish I could figure it out.


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