With Love From New York

Happy New Year, everybody! I cannot believe it’s 2019. Is it just me, or was there a plethora of movies from our childhood (and—in my case—before) based right around this time; depicting the fall of highly technologically-advanced dystopian societies? Remember Y2K and everyone packing their flashlights and canned beans ready for a complete virtual apocalypse? It’s a weird world, but I’m so happy to be a part of it. This year, I can be grateful for so many things. There were times of pain and times of growth. There were six weddings, and two funerals. There was love and loss, and for the first real time in my life, I felt no longer like a child. Something shifted for me in my latest rotation around the sun, solidifying itself when when I entered my 28th year.

I wanted so badly to combine my passions for cooking, hosting, writing, and design but felt underwater in such a large undertaking.

I am in a place in my life that I never dreamed I’d be lucky enough to reach. I have built an amazing relationship, strengthened friendships, paid attention to my mental health, worked on my physical body and lost close to 30 pounds! Of course, I have many a thing to improve upon this year, but that’s what it’s all about, right? When we stop growing, we stop existing. Think about the universe; it’s constantly expanding and at an increasingly accelerated rate. It’s sort of like a metaphor for our brain; while it may not be expanding physically, our awareness and progression can grow, as well, at an increasingly accelerated rate, without meeting an end. All the more reason to push yourself to keep reaching for the apple dangling right beyond your reach!

In 2018, I met the lovely cofounders of Beyond The Interview, Mari and Nicole, and now am even more blessed to be a part of a team of dope fucking women (excuse my language…or don’t—your call), during a time when it is so exciting to be a woman. Prior to our introduction, I had been isolated for years in my writing, never collaborating much due to my majority of work existing as autobiographical nonfiction with a side of poetry. I wanted so badly to combine my passions for cooking, hosting, writing, and design but felt underwater in such a large undertaking. I knew I needed partners and wanted to contribute to a larger production, where I could bounce ideas off a team as I entered the arena of consultation. I hope this year I can do my part to bring you desirable content, introduce you to some fantastic people, cook with you a lot of delicious food, and talk about all your Happy Home needs—from organization to design. I’m excited to host a few dinner parties together and a few larger events, and I know you will love the salon and speakers that the Beyond team will bring you.

Among the many other progressions and changes of 2018 came my newly “bicoastal” status, as I have just moved into my New York apartment, where I will be spending half my year. I’ve essentially shared this amount of time between West Hollywood and Manhattan for almost a decade already, but have always stayed in hotels. I know that sounds like a luxury, but hotels feel very lonely and impersonal when you’re spending half of a year there, and for someone like me, that is absolutely crippling. John Updike defined my predicament perfectly, saying, “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” I was raised in this city. I am a New Yorker through and through, and I crave the feeling one can only get by inhabiting, not touring. 

A very empty living room, just waiting to be furnished.

A very empty living room, just waiting to be furnished.

This amicable, adult-dorm type living has actually prompted the inhabitants to call our group “Friends,” in reference to the TV show, who deemed me the character, Joey.

I found a beautiful apartment in the West Village, at a landmarked building, which was once a large warehouse, close to the piers on the Hudson River. I had known the building for a few years, as I have a few friends living within its walls, one of whom actually is my closest friend (and is in the process of creating a great podcast on mental health that I will report on soon enough). This amicable, adult-dorm type living has actually prompted the inhabitants to call our group “Friends,” in reference to the TV show, who deemed me the character, Joey. Although I’m not to sure how I feel about this lovely sobriquet, I’m confident it was because all other characters were taken, and I do feel incredibly happy and safe knowing that there is a network of people I’ve known for ages who’s apartments I can dart into—in slippers and a panda bear onesie (complete with ears and tail), let’s say—at any given moment. As everyone is still recuperating from their various New Year’s trips, I have yet to find out if my fellow cast members are as excited about this proximity as I am, but I am prepared to always arrive with food in hand, so I think Joey will remain welcomed. 

I fantasized about having this place for years. With the exception of a few weeks here and there, I have lived among others in Los Angeles since pretty much the day I arrived nine years ago. I’ve lived in my sister’s home, in rehabs and sober livings, and in places with significant others. Even in my house and the one previous, I have rented rooms to friends and have a wonderful housekeeper named Martha who helps me with my furry children, as I am gone so often. I have a very blessed life, but it isn’t quiet.

About two years ago I uprooted myself for a few months, living in London and Paris. This showed me how important it was for me to have my own space—my own quiet space. It makes me feel at one with myself and independent, and as I am somewhat socially avoidant, I enjoy the energy of blind companionship that echoes through a building’s walls; I find it pleasurable to know people are so close, without having to interact with them. This city noise, although never the same dialect, is a universal language only spoken by metropolitan area inhabitants. Asides from my soul’s requirement of solitude, I also work from home, so something about the din of the buzzing Manhattan world around, whistling through the cracks in the sealant of my windows and bustling up and down the streets below, makes me feel less alone.

First things first: kitchen necessities!

First things first: kitchen necessities!

I like to pretend I’m in the 1950’s, J.D. Salinger version of New York

New York has a heart beat, a wild hum of life bellowing from the depths of its gut. It really is the city that never sleeps. In fact, it lives up to most of its great cliches, while, unfortunately, L.A. seems to live up to most of its worst. I spoke with a friend recently who argued that New York has lost its charm because so much of it has become “nice.” I see the validity in his argument. Even when we were kids, after the reign of Giuliani, the city still had its grit about it, allowing one to have a sort of dichotic existence between the shiny buildings and uptown brownstones, and the occasional heroin needle found lying on Avenue A. But even given the extreme gentrification progression and the city’s collaborated effort to grow (take The High Line), I find that its charm blares strong. 

I believe this city is what you make it. I, for example, like to pretend I’m in the 1950’s J.D. Salinger-version of New York. And winter makes it easy, walking through the park to The Plaza for tea or an afternoon drink. The city has a timeless energy that comes with the ebbs and flows of the seasons. Weather influences so much here. You will undoubtedly always see coats in the winter and whatever one can get away with in the sweltering summer. For some reason, even though the fashion has changed, this seasonal alteration in climate—alone—gives it this timeless energy. It will always be the same: the attitude of the pedestrians all covering their faces and darting in and out of foot traffic to evade the blistering cold, or the teenagers in summer, gathered on stoops in shorts and Tees smoking joints and drinking beer. It was a wonderful place to grow up, and I believe I will have a wonderful remaining half-life here—or at least for the next three years.

The west village feels like London, with artisanal food shops, delicate home goods, clean-cut, sexy restaurants, and bustling pubs. All the buildings are of pretty-low height (the majority are only three or four stories) and at night the history of the streets unfolds so brightly, one would barely be surprised to see a horse and buggy pull up in lieu of a taxi. My apartment has a lovely view of the Hudson where I can see the currents swirling and changing and daydream as I watch the barges and tugboats pass. Even my mother, when coming by a few days after I got my keys, exclaimed, “You’ll never get any work done with this window!” Normally, I would concede to her position on this topic, but I believe that a workspace is what I’ve been craving most here these last few years. 

As I still have my home in LA, I couldn’t uproot most of my decor and kitchen needs, so I got to start completely from scratch. I am determined to create a writer’s paradise, and make it so feminine that it screams “Carrie Bradshaw,” minus, of course, the sweaters in the oven, as I plan on using mine—a lot. I have based my design concept off of a color palette used in my all time favorite film, Auntie Mame, and mixed it with the 1960’s groovy-chic of Valley of the Dolls. If it weren’t for the holiday’s and typical Murphy’s Law mix-ups with my initial furniture order, I would have more of that to showcase, but alas, February it is. 

For me, 2019 is about taking all that I learned and gained last year and, from it, planting a tree which cultivates an infinite supply of fruit. The possibilities are endless! I have incredible people with incredible stories lined up for my readers, and if all goes according to plan, Beyond will have some more great products for your gift guide next winter. Happy New Year! It’s going to be a good one. Stay tuned…


Quentin Esme