We had said we'd meet in the park on the north side of this hidden little street but then the thunder came and then lightning split the sky and then the kind of New York tropical summer afternoon storm washed down and the pavements steamed and I ran for the cover of the canopy sheltering the sidewalk from the building restoration going on above us.
Standing there, the parks and Midtown to the west, the UN and the river to the east, Forty-Second Street below me, wind driven mist slapping my face, I stopped looking for her, the way you look for people you are waiting for, and faded into the soft reverie of watching the curtain of water slip back and forth across this city stage.
I had not seen her in twenty-three years. We had never been more than good friends, it was not that kind of reunion, but my memory of her carried baskets of recollections of a life left far behind, and so I had crossed over from Grand Central with equal parts fear and anticipation.
I had also not been here in years. This city was someplace else I had allowed to slide into my past. Now I turned and looked in the windows of the Preschool of the Americas in the base of the apartment building being restored. A perfectly diverse collection of children sat at tiny tables in tiny chairs sharing juice and cookies and fantasies driven by plastic dinosaurs and trucks. And I wondered if I was mourning all my lost lives and abandoned locales.
One more crack of thunder rocked the noonday, but from a little further out, and the rain began to lessen, and the sky lighten, and then it faded away, a cooler breeze drifting from the harbor. She came up the stairs from down by the Ford Foundation. We hugged, smiled, laughed, and went off to find lunch.___________________________________________
story and photo copyright Ira Socol, 2006