Last night at the Barnes & Noble on 83rd and Broadway, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I had my very first book reading and signing. I have to say — it was a blast. We had a good crowd, it was fun to talk, fun to read from my book, there were great questions. An amazing experience. It was also strangely nostalgic.
A couple of pieces of background. I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, so this bookstore is in my old stomping ground. And my mother still lives in the apartment I grew up in, about ten blocks away from the bookstore. She’s sort of the Queen of the neighborhood, and knows everyone, so last night I would have to guess that half the audience were her friends. But that was fine with me — they outnumbered the homeless people, which was great.
The other thing that happened was that people showed up from my past. High school friends, college roommates. That was such a wonderful surprise. The internet in general — and Facebook specifically — are such amazing tools for reconnecting with people. This is nothing new, and not astounding news to most Americans, but when you see it up close and personal, well…
…it really set me back a bit. In a wonderful way. To see a friend after 20, 25 years. To suddenly have them show up in front of you — changed, older, wiser. But still happy and smart and smiling. To see the changes that time has wrought on their faces and their bodies, and yet to immediately recognize them, and feel such warmth toward them. Words really can’t express the strange joy I felt.
And now tonight, two more very old friends of mine (they’re not very old, but I knew them from long ago) are coming to the reading in Washington DC. I can’t wait to see them as well, and have those same nostalgic emotions wash over me.
What a thing the internet is. A strange, magical thing.