That Apartment in Brooklyn

3DAllYouCanDream1-216x300By now, most of you must know I have a new book out, The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal.  It’s one of my favorite books so far, a tale of four food bloggers who gather at a lavender farm in Yamhill Co, Oregon, which has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. (It is no secret that I adore lavender and it was a delight to do the research, let me tell you.)

One of the things I did to support the release of the book was travel to New York for a class discussion at Fordham with my editor, and while I was there, I went to brooklyn & cassandraBrooklyn for a signing. (Waving to Cassandra Mariano, from Staten Island, who came in with her mother. So much fun to meet Facebook friends in new cities!)  My friend Therese Walsh, author of The Moon Sisters, had rented an apartment close to the bookstore where we were signing together.

It was a sweet little place, big by NYC standards, a fifth floor walk-up with essentially one big room and a well-appointed little kitchen with a big window and plenty of  space. The bathroom was a triangle barely large enough to stand in front of the sink, but who cares with a kitchen like that? A pile of New Yorker magazines were stacked by the couch, and spying them, I felt time shift abruptly and intensely. No longer was I standing there, too hot in my scarf and waiting for everyone to go downstairs. Instead I was instantly transported into my twenty-year-old self, who was a very hungry and ambitious writer who dreamed of having exactly that life–the one I would live in this apartment. I would have some not-very-thrilling job in the city and take the train back home, dragging my stuff up all those narrow flights of stairs to the apartment at the back, with three windows and turquoise appointments on the walls, and books everywhere and a curtain dividing my day life from my night.  For an iridescent moment, I floated there with Twenty, being both my selves, each image overlaying the other.  Now and then.

As we headed down the stairs, I smiled to myself, because in a way it has all come true, my writing life, born when I lived in a second floor apartment in an old house on a busy street in a city where cars drove by all night long and I had stacks of New Yorkers and piles of books everywhere, and a big kitchen where I never cooked anything because I was working and studying and partying all the time.  I read from The All You Can Dream Buffet and went to dinner with Therese and a couple other literary friends (all of us from Writer Unboxed) and we talked about what we’d done to make our dreams come true, to capture for ourselves a literary life.  I drank wine in Brooklyn and thought of that girl, who was waiting for it all to happen.  When I got back to Chelsea (taking not the train but a cab even if was expensive because I’d been on the go all day to meetings and lunch and then a long, long evening and maybe the train at 11 pm was more than I really wanted to deal with–plus one of the gifts of being Not Twenty is the liquidity to take a cab when one wishes), I walked out into the night to take one last look at the silvery finger of the Empire State Building sticking up into the dark sky. I walked to the store in the mild night and bought water and milk for my coffee. Twenty was pleased, and so was I, walking back on the quiet street, with the smell of garbage somewhere in a can not quite closed, and voices in an apartment, and a glimpse of a classroom in the school.

Have you ever encountered a younger self in the street somewhere? 

8 thoughts on “That Apartment in Brooklyn

  1. Eileen A-W

    Not quite like you wrote about but more of a déjà vu more. It happens when I walk into an apartment building or a classroom. It could happen during a lesson I’m teaching. Sometimes it’s been a dream. No matter what, I do believe this does happen.

  2. I worked in London in my early twenties, and when I visited the city last time, I found myself at the tube station where I had emerged every day on my way to work. I ‘saw’ myself walk slowly up that long flight of steps, my head down and my heart broken. I wanted to run after this young girl and tell her to lift her head and walk proud: everything would be better soon, there was a whole life waiting, and two beautiful children. One of those children is getting married this summer, and her wedding theme is… lavender :o)

    • Barbara Samuel

      Love this! 🙂 Yes, I think most of us do want to tell our younger selves to believe in herself more, trust the goodness, and for heaven’s sake, appreciate how skinny you are! 🙂

  3. Ruthie

    I have experienced deja vu a lot. Always at odd times and locations.

    I just finished your book, Barbara….couldn’t put it down. I feel a need for a discussion on the characters. I want to know more about Noah. I want to know what happened to Liam and the baby. I want to know more about Ginny and Jack and Matthew. I feel a need…..a need to discuss.

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Ruthie. If we warn with spoiler notices, we can discuss here. What do you want to discuss?

  5. Ruthie

    Like any good read, I didn’t want it to end. Because this book was just released, I’ll refrain from any discussions(for now) to give your readers their enjoyment without any spoilers. Barbara, the book was lovely!

  6. Somehow Twenty stays with me – college was a happy, productive time. Living away from home was new and exciting. And there was music, and Model UN, and physics – and friends.

    I think you always stay Twenty in your mind, regardless of what the silly mirror says.


    • Barbara Samuel

      I think you’re right, Alicia.

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