I was released into the world.
Tuesday morning at 10.45, I raced down the stairs from Ruth’s apartment, a paperback and sunglasses in hand, ready for business. I stopped in horror. My beloved yellow Bug had vanished. Oh no! Someone stole my car.
I was released into the world. I’d taught my last class, turned in grades. I had no plans, no position come the fall, no summer job, no love to follow. I felt like a pioneer.
I drove the Saw Mill River Parkway bouncing past hills that rolled away round and bright, the windows wound down, the sun on my arm. The Bug was packed with summer clothes, records, plants, and a portable electric Smith-Corona.
I was on my way to stay with Ruth, my college friend. I had two last Wakefield School paychecks and Ruth was waiting at her new apartment on West End Avenue. She had just broken up with her boyfriend Albie so Ruth and I would be starting over together.
At Yonkers the Saw Mill narrowed into the Henry Hudson Parkway and the city was upon me. I grabbed the wheel with both hands and stayed in the middle lane. Cabs whipped past at speeds that set my jaw tight.
Off the West 79th Street exit, familiar from previous visits out of boarding school, I took a right on Riverside and a left on 76th Street.
At the stoplight, I spied a parking space right in front of Ruth’s brownstone. The light turned green and I claimed the spot.
I knew enough about New York City to check the parking sign. NO PARKING 11AM TO 2PM TUE-THU-SAT.
This was 2.45pm Saturday. I could barely believe my luck–a parking space good until Tuesday.
I grabbed my backpack and a suitcase from the back seat, rang Ruth’s 2B bell, and she buzzed me in.
“Pam?” Ruth called, her door swinging open before I reached the staircase.
“Yeah,” I called back joyously.
Ruth bounced barefoot at the top of the stairs, a mite of a woman though she was no wisp. “Is there more?”
“The whole car.”
Ruth slipped into her Dr Scholl’s and clip-clopped down the stairs.
“I found this corner table at an antique store I want to show you,” she said. This was the beginning of an exuberant conversation Ruth and I kept up for hours. We were two halves of a whole.
Nothing could go wrong between Ruth and me. We’d share moo goo gai pan on Mott Street at her favorite Chinese hole-in-the-wall, where we ran into Art Garfunkel the last time we were there.
Tuesday morning at 10.45, I raced down the stairs from Ruth’s apartment, a paperback and sunglasses in hand, ready for business.
Before she left for work, Ruth suggested I drive to the Cloisters, a medieval monastery constructed of six different abbeys from France and Spain that John D Rockefeller Jr had disassembled stone by stone and shipped to New York. They were reassembled at the northern tip of Manhattan in Fort Tryon Park, where George Washington led his ragtag troops to defeat against Hessian mercenaries during the American Revolution.
I was thrilled with New York history as told by Fodor’s. My every step was steeped in lives that changed the world.
I stopped in horror. My beloved yellow Bug had vanished. A Buick stood in its place. Panic burbled in my belly. Oh no! Someone stole the Bug.