It was one of those too-full days where you’re already behind schedule before getting out of bed. I’d been uptown since sunrise, helping Zach make early-morning design decisions on a new restaurant he’s building in the east 50’s, settling lingering structural questions before construction workers strolled in to begin the day’s assignments.
By 9am we were in an even further-uptown gallery space, conducting installation on an art event we’d designed for that evening and were in the final throws of producing ~ directing furniture deliveries and art handlers, trying to make a vast concrete gallery space feel like the sun-bleached beaches of Montauk for 100 of the city’s top art investors. I was single-handedly assembling picnic benches and helping build teepees, arranging flowers, and spray-painting designs onto t-shirts, to be worn in a few hours by surfer girl cater waiters. Constant, kinetic, creative motion. And then it was late afternoon, and I hadn’t yet stopped moving. I’d made my way from East 85th down to Chinatown, in search of bamboo skewers for a bite-size salad we were serving that night at the art party. Just as I finally found what I’d been hoping for in the basement of Pearl River Mart, a mind fog of unsteady delirium suddenly swept over me. It was 4pm; I was dizzy, exhausted, starving. I hadn’t taken a moment to eat all day. Fighting fainting, I hurriedly paid for 400 jumbo toothpicks and rushed back up to street level, crazy-eyed in need of food. I remembered Smile To Go was just a few blocks away, and eagerly ordered a trio of salads from their walk-up glass counter. Hot, healthy, herculean mounds of kale, quinoa, and sugar snap peas. Heaven.
I found a seat in the window and slurped down half a glass of lemonade in one gulp. Ravenous and tired, I shoveled a single spoonful of quinoa, swallowing without chewing. I looked out the window, concealing or quelling indigestion. That’s when I saw her.The coolest girl dashed past me. We were separated by a pane of glass, as if she were an exotic zoo animal and I the heaving tourist who’d paid to catch a glimpse of her. She wore flat sandals, no makeup, oversized boyfriend jeans, and a kite of a white top that shot out from her sides as she rushed past my window, revealing peek-a-boo glimpses of a tanned back. She looked effortless and comfortable, breezily chic despite the humidity and heat. The lunch I’d nosedived into could suddenly wait. I folded close the paper lid on my salad box and stuffed it deep into my handbag, rushing out the door in the same quick movement. I followed that stylish specter down the street and into a fancy Soho store, where I feigned interest in the clothes while circling closer to where she sat, trying on shoes. I attempted nonchalance as I moseyed up to her side and finally, shyly interrupted her shopping. Where did she get that incredible top, I asked, expecting Isabel Marant or perhaps Acne in reply. H+M, she confessed.
Like a lightning bolt, I was back out the door. Within minutes, I’d bought two of copies of her top from the H+M on Broadway, and by the next day my sister had too. It’s the find of the summer! The unofficial uniform. As perfect over a bikini as it is under a suit, I’ve worn it nearly nonstop ever since. Unsurprisingly, everywhere I go, strange girls sidle up to me, shyly and sweetly asking where they can get one too. I can relate to their curiosity so I’m happy to share the secret. Now, back to that salad still buried at the bottom of my bag…