Friday, July 28, 2006

a sign

I was lost. I was lost inside Rockefeller Center. Again.

This had happened three or four times already. The train had dumped me out in a cave of black granite and gold banisters and I never went the same way twice. The tunnels widened and twisted, became office then mall then office again. Sunglasses stores turned into map kiosk stands, tour guides, NBC studios, metal detectors, Rockettes in the off-hours, Texas tourists in shorts, accordion buskers, that familiar gold trumpet.

Nowhere winter. Nowhere ice.

I asked directions but never received an answer; wherever it was that I was going, no one else seemed to know, either.

I never stop walking. I never obey the Hansel and Gretel maxim of staying put. Staying put is to be a stationary target. I am a shark, and this time, I was pushed out into the open: calm wide corridors, empty echoing. I went up an escalator. A security guard in a dark blue uniform was going down the other side, holding his lunch in a paper sack. He smiled at me, white tooth-splitting grin.

I went down a hallway. I went toward the direction of light, vague light, a door perhaps. Nearly empty, but everyone who passed reacted. A woman in a suit smiled. A man in a suit smiled. Another woman in a power suit, shoulder-pads nearly hitting her earlobes, smiled and waved.

Another security guard said, Nice to see you.


No one in this city has been unkind, but no one—-no stranger—-has been quite this friendly, either: not the many who have given directions, not the man on the bench who said his dog took to me immediately, not even the library guard who waves me in now without search.

I was wearing a ten dollar dress. I had heels, lipstick, a bikini, and a laptop in my canvas, broken-zippered bag. My hair had a love-knot in it, or five.

I found the door, a rotating pinwheel. I pushed out into street and sunlight and heat and looked back; the name above the door in gold lettering said: Simon & Schuster.

That is so a sign, you said.