Having planned our outing weeks in advance, I made my way to the Cape House in Bushwick, where HanOre and I had decided to read magazines and eat clam strips. New Yorkers are perhaps some of the busiest people you’ll ever meet, so time to sit and do (almost) nothing has to be thought out ahead of time.
“Can you do next Wednesday?” I might ask a friend.
“Agh, no, maybe the following Sunday?”
That’s really how it goes. I think to some extent the city is filled with people who are constantly doing, and to make plans at the last minute often really isn’t an option unless you know someone really well. And even then it’s not a guarantee.
So I was looking forward to this day where I would not only get to sit and tackle the giant stack of magazines that had been building up on my dresser, but to share them with my friend who appreciates nothing if not the finely worded phrases, beautifully designed layouts, chic photography, and lush wardrobes associated with what becomes monthly-assembled and bound printed pages.
I stuffed the stack of magazines in my red backpack, tied a leopard scarf around a bun on my head, swept on a splash of red lipstick, and made my way to Brooklyn.
The Cape House is a lovely yet idiosyncratic spot just off the Morgan stop on the L, its white wooden walls and sailboat decor featuring a nautical kitsch not shared by its industrial surroundings. Freight trucks rumble past us in the Saturday summer sun as we sit outside on wooden benches cordoned off by more white wooden walls from aged warehouses still in use.
HanOre jokes that today we have both dressed very much like the embodiment of ourselves, me in a tacky button-down top printed with storybook scenes and red shorts, she in loafers and a Juicy Couture sweatsuit, an item she is perhaps singlehandedly, shamelessly bringing back into vogue. I make a joke about my eyes bleeding. Understanding this is how I show I care about people, she laughs. Secretly (although I guess not so much as of right now), I love how she loves what she loves without apology.
Thank RuPaul for people like her, I think to myself. People who get it, who get me. Who get any of us. That there’s some cross-breeze in the universe that deposits people at our doorstep who either love the things that we love or understand us for everything that we are or both, no explanation required.
My friendship with HanOre started over our love of magazines, an inexplicable love we still have despite what we’re told is a dying age of print media. Who else before her had I met in the world who understood the beauty of the newsstand at a bookstore, the glamour of a masthead, the excitement of a September issue, who would understand why I kept every issue of ElleGirl ever published? It was like finding a friend who spoke a language I thought nobody else knew.
So to be able to sit and read magazines with my friend for an entire day felt not just like a luxury, but a gift.
Ultimately, we decide on clam bellies as our snack of choice instead. “You’ve never had them so let’s get them,” HanOre says. Growing up in New England, she is a relative expert on the stuff. They arrive and they’re crispy, meaty, with a taste of iron and sand (but like, in a good way). Topped with a squirt of lemon, they mash gently against my teeth with sprightly acidic pops.
In between bites, we gasp at the gorgeousness of font choices, the smoothness of papers in our hands, the creative headline choices that made us bubble in appreciation and joy. We are, by definition, nerds: single-minded in what is perhaps a niche field and totally unapologetic about it. And goodness, it’s a beautiful feeling.
We sit there for hours with a giant stack of magazines: T, Vanity Fair, Elle, V, others.
“It looks like a work project,” says a man passing by our table, trying to make conversation with us.
“No,” HanOre says, polite but curt, from behind black cat-eye glasses. “It’s for fun.”