Monday, September 12, 2011

I Happen to Like New York


I had a friend with an apartment on Prince Street in Soho.

My last visit to NYC in the spring of 2001 was to visit him and another friend who'd moved there with her husband. She and I'd worked together at LSU.

I was also supposed to meet up with my (sorority) little sister, Tove Sundqvist. She lived in Amsterdam, but she had to be in Boston. We were going to try and get together, but ultimately it didn't work out.

Anyway, my friend John was very excited about the prospect of me moving to NYC and getting an editorial job, and he was helping me meet folks at Newsweek and Hachette.

It was very cold, and I have a picture of me freezing on top of the WTC six months before it hit the ground. It was my third trip in less than two years, but I wasn't going to move. I didn't want it badly enough, and I was married with a husband on his way to med school at the time.

I remember John took me to some way off-Broadway play where all the actors ended up completely naked at various points. I have no idea what the name of it was, but we met up with some of the cast at a little diner after. They kept going on about how much I looked like Drew Barrymore, and John was indignant. "She is not fat," he snapped.

John was from Port Allen. Same city as that little Tracy Porter kid who made the winning play for the Saints at the Superbowl. John's apartment was huge by NYC standards and his rent was only $1,400 a month because of rent control. He'd been there since the '80s. I still can't believe he gave that place up to move to Atlanta.

That night at the diner, I just remember thinking how one of my sorority sisters used to say I looked like Drew Barrymore, and I'd never taken it as an insult.

Six months later everything changed. It was Sept. 11, and I was working at the paper in Shreveport, La. I remember standing out in the newsroom with the rest of the staff watching Matt Lauer covering the nightmare. Then I went back to my office where my phone was ringing off the hook with friends demanding to know what was going on.

I just work here, I thought.

One month after that Tove was killed in Amsterdam after being hit by a tram while she was riding her bike. I remember getting the email from her (bio) sister Jenny telling me what had happened, and I went straight to the phone and called her.

I had no idea what time it was in Sweden, but I couldn't believe it. Somebody had hacked into her email account and was playing the most un-funny joke of all time.

But it wasn't the most un-funny joke. It was the most un-funny truth. We sat there kind of stunned, and I eventually hung up the phone. I don't really remember our conversation.

An hour later, as the email was being discovered by our other sisters, my phone started ringing off the hook again. What had happened? Had I talked to Jenny? But Tove just got married! She was going to have a baby! And she was always so healthy! It was surreal.

I had just gotten the thank-you card she'd sent me for her wedding present. I'd given her some of those giant bath-sheet towels we all loved so much. I remembered how one time she'd fallen in the shower at her dorm and hit her head and we all had to rush her to the ER for stitches. Jenny had been so scared, and we'd all joked about what a klutz she was. Another time she got a speeding ticket, and Jenny just knew she was going to get deported. Tove was larger than life.

I sat down and scribbled out some letter to Jenny that I couldn't even read through my blurry eyes. I wrote how I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't. I wrote about how badly I'd wanted to be at her wedding that summer, but with the move to Shreveport and all it had been impossible. And I hadn't saved enough money to fly to Amsterdam.

I mailed it without even proofreading. It probably made no sense.

Another month later, my first marriage ended...

Tough year.

It got better, of course, and by the end of 2002, I was surrounded by an amazing group of friends in Indy who took me in on sight and made me feel as welcome as if I'd always been here.

They still do. Those guys are amazing. Love them~

* * *

This is a repost from when I first started blogging in 2010. It seemed appropriate today, in remembrance of Sept. 11 and in light of our relocation back to Indy. Still love those guys! It feels like a quiet day, but I'll be sending my revision back as scheduled. And I plan to be around.

Til Thursday, reader- and writer-friends~ <3


29 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Great way to start me crying in the morning! I wouldn't believe something like that either. Sorry for your loss.

Miranda Hardy said...

I need to stop reading right before I go into work. Sorry this happened to you.

salarsenッ said...

Thanks for sharing this, hun. Yes...appropriate.

Jen Daiker said...

Way to give me blurred eyes before the days begun!!! What a sweet and emotional piece. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm wiping my tears and giving you the biggest hug!

I love ya girly!

Creepy Query Girl said...

wow, that is a really tough year. If you're lucky and open- the bonds you form with people throughout your life will remain intact no matter where you are and it always always hurts to lose someone like that. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us.

Liz Fichera said...

*Hugs* I am so sorry about your friend.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm glad 2011 has been much better for you. *hugs*

Old Kitty said...

Thanks for sharing this emotive piece. Big hugs all round, take care
x

Pk Hrezo said...

Wow that was a very tough year. Please tell me Tove was not newly married AND pregnant. I don't think I could bear to know that. What a tragic year that was for you. The kind that really make you appreciate when things are going right. 2009 was like that for me--no national tragedy or anything, but almost ended my marriage. We came thru in the end, tho and now have a new home with a fresh start and rekindled love. Makes me so appreciative when I think back to the bad stuff.
Drew, huh? Can't really see it from your pics. But for some reason the actress who plays Skeeter in The Help reminds me of you. Not in a negative way at all... I know in the book she's kinda awkward but the actress in the film is very pretty. And seeing as that I've only seen your pics, I could be way off. But there it is. Don't hate me... I mean it in a good way. :D

LTM said...

@Laura--sorry, girl. It just felt like that kind of day. 2001 was a tough year, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who still misses loved ones~ ((hugs))

@Liz--Thanks, hon~ <3

@PK--Things like to happen all at once around here, it seems. But that which doesn't kill us, right? I don't know about the Drew thing, but I did have another lady I used to work w/say that about The Help/Skeeter. LOL! It's just the hair~ :D <3

Shannon said...

Yeah, that year blew chunks. Sorry to hear that you had such a difficult time. Thank you so much for sharing it, though. <3

KarenG said...

I adore New York, my dream was always to go there and live out my novelist life but instead I'm out west in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. And I love the song of your post title, I am singing it in my head right now.

Talli Roland said...

Wow. What an emotional post - I can just imagine that feeling of disbelief that swept through you when you got the email.

I love New York, too.

Dawn Ius said...

Wow. A beautiful and heart warming post. Thank you <3

Elle Strauss said...

A very moving account of your love for NYC and your friends. Thanks :) *hugs*

RaShelle Workman said...

Hey Leigh - You're such a sweetie. *hugs*

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm really sorry, Leigh. All the choices we make, big and small, impact us in ways we often don't even know. Thank you for sharing this story again. I missed it the first time around.

M Pax said...

Wow, that was a crappy year. Made me sad.

I like NYC, too. I used to live there. Lived in DC, too. I remember watching the TV from Oregon that day with my mouth hanging open. Then trying to reach all the people I knew in NY & DC.

DEZMOND said...

what a sad story :(

Lydia K said...

What a terrible year for you. But like you said, we have to cling to those things that bring us to better things, like hope. I'm so glad you are happy now and surrounded by love.

Michelle Fayard said...

What a beautiful and heart-touching post. I was working as a news journalist as well when 9/11 happened. There are some things you never forget.

Clarissa Draper said...

What a story! I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. It does sound like a difficult year.

lbdiamond said...

That's quite a story. Thanks for sharing. *hugs*

Anita Grace Howard said...

Oh, Leigh. What a beautiful post! Thanks for "re-sharing" it. And congrats on that revision! I'm sending up vibes for it. Keep me posted on things!:)

LTM said...

@LBD--thanks, hon! ((hugs)) to you, too~ :o)

@Anita G.--sure, girl, and shew. thanks on the revisions, too. We'll see... :p <3

erica and christy said...

I could feel your loss from here.

Also, I've always lived in WI and never managed to travel east (I know, weird, since I'm 36 years old). So Sept. 11th probably doesn't mean the same thing to me that it does to those who lived it over there. But my son was born on 2/21/01 and that year is in my mind as much as anyones - good and bad.

My best friend from high school was killed in a traffic accident just before I gave birth, and although my doctor didn't want me to travel for the funeral, I was determined to. Then, a day later, my husband's grandpa died and the funerals were on the same day.

2001 brought ups and downs (and horrible, horrible tragedy) to us all. It's important to remember.
erica

Janet Johnson said...

Wow, I love your writing. And I never thought of Drew as fat. How funny.

But yeah, 2001 was a doozy. And especially for you! So sad about your friend.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Wow. There are some years that really stick with us. What a difficult, life changing year that was for you. So, so sad. So much loss. I hope that you are now in a much better place--it sounds like you are, and I'm glad for it.

I'm looking forward to getting to know you. Indy's a cool place to be.

Lynda R Young said...

I'm glad you reposted this. Yikes, what a year that was!