This is how she looks today and it's also exactly how she looked 40 years ago when we met in 5th grade. She was one of the new girls transferred from PS 134 on East Broadway to PS 110 on Broome Street. She was exotic and worldly and exciting. She was clean and graceful and unwavering. I was a baby monkey on caffeine. I longed to be her elegant grace. I still do.
I had my first real birthday party at her house (it was a surprise). We suffered through the punches and grabbing and pushing at J.H.S. 56 together (she chased Willie Joe down Pitt Street after he sprayed her hair with Pledge. It was a fierce sight to behold.) And after that we went on to survived the High School of Performing Arts where the dancers and actresses ruled the boys and us musicians had to be inventive just to be seen. (I gave up and hid in the staircase during lunch for two years.) We ate, drank, and partied together and at some point in our late teens, maybe early early 20's, we were roommates in my first and only apartment. I still have her lamp, table and the dish, cup and bowl she left behind. She still looks like she lives here when she visits.
But what I remember most and always of Her New York was the day in 6th grade we got back our creative writing assignment. I don't remember what I wrote. But the moment I read hers my life changed. This, I remember thinking, is real writing. This is literature.