late night with david letterman

You know how some days it seems like everyone is having a bad day? Or how other days everyone is in a good mood for no apparent reason? It’s like there’s this collective energy in the air that influences us more than we realize. Sometimes I’ll pick up on energy from my friends and just know they’re going through a hard time, even if I haven’t seen them or communicated with them in a while. That’s the kind of feeling I had on April 3. I was feeling all weird and stressed and anxious. Then I found out why.

April 3 was the day David Letterman announced his retirement.

David Letterman announcing his retirement, April 3, 2014

Am I friends with David Letterman? Tragically, no. Did I pick up on his depressing retirement announcement energy anyway? Of course I did. Dave is a lot of the reason I’m here in New York. Back in the day, I spent summers with my grandparents. They watched The Tonight Show religiously. This was the real Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Summers were awesome because I got to stay up late. I’ve always been a night person. Late night at 12 years old was rebellion and excitement and fun. One night I noticed that this show called Late Night with David Letterman was coming on after Johnny. When I asked my Gram about it, she said that David was kind of like Johnny, but zany and wacky. Zany and wacky? Dude, I was a weirdo, too! There was no way I was missing that show.

I stayed up to watch Late Night. Dave broke all sorts of boundaries. He threw pencils at the camera. He made weird faces and held them for a long time. He wore Adidas sneakers with blue patches on the side. He had the Late Night Thrill-Cam. He showed you backstage. The said the most random things like, “I’ll give you five hundred dollars if you let me take my teeth out.” And he smashed watermelons on the roof in a 90-ton hydraulic press.

David Letterman in 1982

Late Night with David Letterman was officially my favorite show.

But then summer ended. And I had to go back to school. And I wasn’t allowed to stay up until 12:30 to watch Dave anymore. We didn’t have a VHS. The Internet was not a thing yet. All I could do was look forward to next summer to be reunited with the person who was showing me my true home. You could feel the city energy radiating from the screen when Dave was on. You could feel the excitement and soul and endless possibilities. New York was where I belonged. It was my fantasy future home.

I became obsessed with New York City. I went to the library at lunch and did research. Every time we started working with a new medium in art, I would paint or sketch or sculpt the New York City skyline. This went on for years. The Twin Towers were like friends to me. I dreamed of the day when I’d be walking down 5th Avenue, the Twin Towers glowing in the distance, watching over me. That dream became reality 18 years ago when I moved here. There is no where else in the world I want to be.

Writing So Much Closer was kind of like writing a love letter to New York. It’s about a girl who grew up across the water in New Jersey, longing to live in the greatest city in the world. I dedicated the book to my beloved city of New York. I gave David Letterman an acknowledgment for sparking my passion for New York City. Even my bio was specific to Dave: As a teenage Jersey girl, Susane felt like her true home was across the water in New York City. The Knowing began when she saw Late Night with David Letterman for the first time in junior high. Even my koala bear, Chez, wears my old Late Night with David Letterman tee:

Chez in his Late Night with David Letterman tee

So yeah. I owe a lot to David Letterman for showing me the way. He opened up a world of infinite possibilities and dared me to dream big. It breaks my heart that he’s moving on. But I will never forget the way he made me feel less alone during the worst time of my life. I will never forget how he inspired me to turn my biggest dream into reality.

Happy birthday, Dave. You are, and always will be, the heart of New York.


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