My dream of a city where I have no memories yet still feels like home recently slipped through my heart's fingers and I have found myself once again back in New York treading through THEN as I go through NOW.
We never really went west of Macy's. Herald Square was 34th Street as much as the world was flat prior to Columbus's birth. But with a sudden need for a job to pay a sudden rent I incurred after a sudden invitation to leave my parents' home, I found myself at the age of 17 walking into the many 34th Street dusty offices of the many cheap clothes buyers, bulky men with pompoudors, tints of gray on the side, pinky rings who spoke more with their hands and the shrug of a shoulder than with words.
I, practically in bad drag with a cheap skirt, cheaper heels, and a too-bright smile would wait patiently on old aluminum chairs practicing enthusiasm for the Receptionist Position while fantasizing a future of being "the Girl" to all these men. Down on the street, windows poured out the very things these men sold and as I looked for work I felt at home. It was just like Delancey Street only a bit more expensive.
My dream of being "the Girl" never happened. I became other things in other offices. I went to school. I still paid my rent. I grew old and as I did, my city became some place I didn't grow up in.
Except for some small patches. Three decades later I now work west of Macy's. When saturated with cubicle walls I stroll down the street I recognize intimately. No longer on a now renovated Delancey, these 34th Street windows sing to me memories that don't make me wince or even cry. And as I walk by I say private prayers of gratitude to the place I still belong. Sometimes it looks like I'm talking to myself but nothing stops me from wishing all the store keepers well and praying they hold their leases until something happens and New York become a place to live and work again. It may be futile and perhaps I need to accept change but these small corners hold me as I heal.
Today's walk was no different. There was the window just like the one I had drooled in front of when there was no extra money for unnecessary toys.
I swear these are the same serious shoes my father looked at with great thought.
And these immortal pretty ladies still look like we never could.
I was offering up my prayer of gratitude "oh thank you for being here please stay and earn money enough to pay your rent..."
...when I saw this.
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