In an unfortuante turn of events, Mike returned to finance last year. We didn’t have much choice. We had to get back on the hamster wheel or let the Heart Gallery become just another covid-lockdown casualty.
One of the only perks of his job is the occasional work trip to a place you may not otherwise venture. This time, it was New York City, and fortunately, I got to be his sidekick on a whirlwind trip to the Big Apple.
It felt like walking through a cliche–magazine stands, hotdog carts, all night pizza availability, and billboards creating literal giants out of celebrities and products. It felt a little more Blade Runner than Pretty Woman though. Sirens wailed without ceasing and garbage bags were stacked like cheer camp pyramids in front of nearly every building. Wafts of rotting food and other mysterious aromas permeated the air and made it a little tough to do any deep breathing.
My disdain for the city’s handling of rubbish was assuaged by a sense of historical gratitude for what New York has seen and endured; for the open arms that met my grandfather on Ellis island and the entrepreneurial spirit that built a sprawling metropolis. It is in this spirit of gratitude that I headed out to meet Mike for a rooftop work party. I wanted to show up with that put-together-New York-can-do attitude. So I straightened my haphazardly curly hair, put on my best dress, carefully applied red lipstick, selected manageable heels and proceeded to embark on a one mile journey to the rally point where I would meet Mike and his colleagues. Sure, I was a little worried about the hair and the heels, but remember, I had a can-do attitude on!
There were some white squalls earlier in the day that had given the city and I a good drenching, but the showers had for the most part ceased and blue skies were emerging. The puddle situation however, was still an issue. I did my best to avoid drips from the endless fields of scaffolding and pursued shade with great intention so I could arrive looking dapper with a matte finish. But as I passed the endless mirrored windows on Park Avenue, I noticed that my hair was clearly falling victim to the humidity and I was beginning to look like Monica in the tropics. But, the heels were holding up so I continued walking confidently to my destination. After three wrong turns and a lot of sweating, I approached the final block. I stood at the crosswalk waiting for the New Yorkers around me to start jaywalking so I could too. And then it happened….
A truck with no name blew by me carrying with it a tidal wave of filthy garbage infused rain water. It was like the grand finale at the Bellegio with a touch of raw sewage. I screamed like a horrified debutant whose Gucci dress had been ruined by a clumsy waiter. The nether regions of my (non Gucci) attire and my fancy shoes dripped with foul storm water but there was no waiter to blame. Just myself for standing too close to a New York puddle. My involuntary shriek quickly gave way to hysterical laughter. My dress was sticking to my legs, and my saturated fancy shoes made a pathetic squishy sound that let people know I was coming from a mile away. I crossed the street audibly laughing, head down, in shock, avoiding eye contact with somewhat sympathetic onlookers.
“I am impressed that you are laughing,” said the business man who happened to be standing on the other side of the sidewalk–noticeably far away from the swamp water in the street.
“What else am I gonna do.” I replied, trying to re-establish confidence with good humor.
I arrived to meet my husband and his colleagues looking like I had just left a cocktail party/hot yoga class. I explained the situation at dinner, with as much humility and comic relief as possible so they didn’t feel bad for me. Humiliation is usually worsened by pity, so I did my best to do the self deprecating before anyone else could. But to my surprise, the gentleman across the table had heard of me. That’s right, his friend had texted him about “the lady in the blue dress who got rocked at the crosswalk”. Apparently, my assault was noteworthy even by NY standards. That’s awesome.
The moral of the story?
Don’t take the advanced storm drains and refuse collection system in Washington for
granted. And, come paint with me at the Heart Gallery as soon as possible. We want off the wheel.