Friday, April 06, 2007

paschal pumps

It was snowing and we were hungry--scouting out a Mexican restaurant on the Upper East Side while the theatrical sky funneled sun and snow between buildings. I'd suggested a tiny French Caribbean place with organic escargot, but my companion thought the space too small and dark. So I lit a cigarette and drove South.

It was Holy Thursday. I'd spent the morning singing at liturgy, where (to my surprise) I began to cry during the service. As we drove down Second Avenue I wondered at my tears. This Pascha is the first in five years that I've chosen to celebrate in New York, at a parish I more or less attend. Staying in town for Pascha is admitting I live here--and so many of my friends live far away.

We found a place to park on a brownstone and tree-lined street in the eighties. A turquoise awning on Second Avenue promised Mexican, and we headed in that direction. Half-way down the block I stopped short. An elegant pair of low-heeled, buckle-toed, black leather pumps rested on a brick ledge next to the sidewalk. They sat there, gazing up at me.

I knew immediately they were my size. And, as if I always happen upon shoes this way, I unzipped my boot and nestled my foot down into the stylish little pump. It fit perfectly. The snow continued to fall while my companion stared at me, blinking incredulously. I glanced around. Did someone head out for a walk, forgetting her shoes? Or did she leave them here on purpose, hoping someone who loved them would find them? Garbage bags lined the curb, but the shoes sat by themselves on the opposite side of the sidewalk. No one appeared at the door of the nearest brownstone to scold me. I put my boot back on, set the pumps down and walked away. "If they're here when we return, it's a sign from God that I should take them." I said.

I got about 15 feet before I stopped and ran back for the shoes. The mere idea of somebody else snatching them was too much for me. I picked up the shoes and looked around warily, sure their owner would appear any moment to claim her Parisian slippers, and then stashed them in my computer bag. We walked up to Second Avenue but restaurant turned out to be an unappetizing Mexican-themed sports bar. "Let's go back to the French Caribbean place," my friend said, "We were meant to come here for the shoes. And now we can go back." So we did.

I wore the shoes to liturgy this morning, and stood in them through all the Old Testament readings. And I might wear them to Pascha tonight, if it doesn't snow.

1 comment:

Ser said...

I love this post--the writing, the incident, and especially the last line.

Did it snow? And what sign was God sending with that?

This is so whimsical and lovely. I'm thinking a sort of Orthodox (and necessarily more hopeful) Paul Auster.