gone and back again

It’s Monday morning, and I’m sitting here watching the sun come up over my backyard. I had SO much fun in New York, but really, the best kind of vacation is when you’re happy there and equally happy to come back home. Which I was.

I got in on Thursday around noon, had a great lunch with a friend, then got some shopping in on Fifth Avenue (hello, Longchamp store!) before dinner with my editor. Then, on Friday morning, I got up and headed down to Times Square to geek out at the GMA studios. Regular readers might remember that a year or two ago I got to go visit the set, because I have a friend who knows JuJu Chang, but this time I had to settle for hanging around outside the big windows, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside. I have to say, though, that standing there I finally met some folks who are as nuts for GMA as I am. (Unlike my friends and family, who look at me oddly whenever I go on about my Sam Champion obsession.) Anyway, suffice to say, I was with my people. There was one girl who was balancing, Ringling-Brothers style, on a fire hydrant while her mother stood by anxiously, worrying she was going to topple over at any moment. (She didn’t.) I asked her if she could get a picture of my man Sam for me, handed over my phone, and she obliged:

(He’s very tiny, but he is there. I swear!)

I was so excited to be there that I posted something about it on my Twitter account. Then, a few minutes later, I was standing with these two folks I’d been talking with when one of them got a text. She looked at it, then said to her friend, “My sister says Sarah Dessen is out here too.” He said, “Who the hell is Sarah Dessen?” And I said, “Um, actually, that’s me.” Which was hilarious and so surreal, I can’t even tell you. Anyway, turns out that her sister is a fan of my books and this blog. Small world, right? So then I’m signing a business card for her, and smiling for a picture, and all the people around the window are looking at us like we’re nuts. But it gets better! So the show is going along, and when it’s over the guests and hosts start coming out to get into their cars and be driven away. I saw G-Step (who had one of his kids with him, so cute) and Emeril LaGasse (who, incidentally, was the only one who just walked past without posing for pictures or being very friendly. BAM! Or, not. But I digress.) Finally, they say that JuJu is coming out, but she’s in a big rush and can’t do any pictures. Still, because she is so awesome, she stopped anyway, thanking the crowd for coming and posing for a few shots. As she walked past me, she said, “Thanks so much for coming to watch the show!” and I smiled at her. Then, she gets, like, two feet past me and turns around. “Wait, I know you!” she says, and comes back and gives me a hug. “Sarah, what are you doing out here? You should have let me know you were coming!”

Let me tell you: I was about to pass out I was so excited. I mean, I know I’d met her and all, but how many people do you think she takes on tours of GMA every year? Plus, she’s got three kids. It’s not like she’d remember some nerdy girl from North Carolina she hung out with for a couple of hours two years ago. But she did, and in doing so, she kind of made my life. She said next time I should let her know if I was going to be in town, and I said I would. And then she got in her car and drove off, and all my new GMA friends just looked at me like I’d been holding out on them. But I swear I wasn’t. My friend Dana pointed out last night that I never think anyone remembers me, and this is kind of true. Probably something to deal with in therapy, but whatever.

From that high, I proceeded to a kind of low by getting lost on the subway. (I know, I know, you all had told me to use HopStop, and I did, but I still got lost. I have a really bad sense of direction, something I forget because I, um, have lived in the same place my entire life.) I ended up somewhere near Canal Street, in Chinatown, with absolutely no idea how to get where I needed to be, and my Google Maps app wasn’t much help. I walked a bit before finally admitting defeat and hailing a cab, which was actually a good idea because it turned out I was, in fact, going in the wrong direction. Whoops!

Then I had a delicious lunch with Allison, my fab publicist, who was convinced Elijah Wood was at the next table, but I didn’t get a good look until we were leaving. Oh, well. Then, Allison walked me up a block, pointed, and said, “The shopping is that way. You can’t miss it.” And of course, she was right. It was like, retail nirvana. (This was the whole Prince/Mercer/Broadway area. I think. Again, I have a lousy sense of direction.) What I do know is that there was this:

Did you know that Theory had retail stores? Me neither. I LOVE their stuff and walking in there was like entering paradise. Ahhhhhhh. Thanks, Allison!

When it was time to go back to the hotel, I decided that I would NOT be bested by the transit system. So I went back down, bought another Metro pass, and asked one of the people working there exactly which train to take. He said I was in the wrong station and needed to go up and back across the street. (Not the best start, right?) So I did, got on the train he’d told me to and….realized a stop later I was going in the wrong direction. Thanks, MTA dude! So I got BACK off the train, asked for directions again, and finally got where I needed to be. With all the time and effort, I probably would have been better off just taking a cab. But this time, it was personal. And I was victorious! (Hey, you have to take triumphs where you can.)

Then it was off to the YA Author Festival at the New York Public Library, where I was part of a GREAT tribute to my editor, followed by an awesome panel about writing in a girl’s voice. It was really fun to be part of such a cool event, plus I got to catch up with all these writer friends I never get to see, like Coe Booth and Susane Colasanti and Jenny Han (who I commiserated with about the UNC basketball season, because that’s what us Carolina girls do when we get together). Plus, for some reason, there was all this swag for the new Miley Cyrus movie The Last Song, so I scored a couple of official movie tie-in bracelets. You know you are jealous! Thanks to David Levithan, who put the entire festival together, and to everyone at the NYPL who worked so hard to make it all come off so well. And thanks also to ALL the readers who came out. You guys rock.

After the panel, I had a late dinner, then went back to my hotel and collapsed. The next morning, I had just enough time for a quiet breakfast before heading to the airport. Table by the window, omelet and potatoes, and a great view:

And then it was time to go. That’s what always seems to happen when I go to New York: I run around and do so much, trying to fit everything in, and yet I never feel like I get to do enough. I guess I need to stay longer, but the truth is, I love home too much to be away for that long. Because as much as I enjoy a city view, this is the one I truly love:

Yeah. Pretty nice.

Have a good day, everyone!

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