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After Work: Inspiration Found

…There it was, a silver evening sandal in the median near the northbound entrance ramp to Manhattan’s FDR Drive.

The forlorn shoe gave off little glitters in the morning sun. Only one sandal with a story to tell..

And Dona Gibbs tells that story with such style that even if things didn’t work out as she describes, you wish that they had.

For more of Dona’s zestful words please click on After Work in the menu on this page.

There it was, a silver evening sandal in the median near the northbound entrance ramp to Manhattan’s FDR Drive.

The forlorn shoe gave off little glitters in the morning sun. Only one sandal with a story to tell.

On the next two trips when I exited the city I saw it. Then it was gone.

Lost articles aren’t unusual in this big city of ours. Nor are discarded ones. Or abandoned ones. A windy, rainy day yields cheap umbrellas with broken ribs, tossed into corner trashcans. Winter brings ice crusted single mittens along the park paths. Near the dog runs there’s sure to be a tennis ball no longer covered in yellow fuzz. It’s a ball well loved by a dog but forgotten in some doggy urgency. Each object far from its expected place has a tale to tell.

The sandal has a dramatic story, I’m sure, which I’ll never know but that I can imagine.

I picture a young couple giddy with youth, half-loony with the moon over the East River and each other. The traffic creeps along. He amuses himself by singing along to the superb tunes he’s got on his superb car sound system., bobbing his head to the thump-thump-a-thump. He cuts his eyes towards her, sitting beside him.

“Your friend Millie,” he begins.

She looks quizzically towards him

“She’s got issues,” she sniffs.

He smiles to himself, “None I saw.”

She raises an eyebrow, “ Maybe you weren’t looking there.”

He notes the emphasis she puts on “there.”

He grins.

And she laughs, “ As my grandma used to say, you can kiss my foot.”

And with that she thrusts her silver shod foot into his lap.

He raises her foot, her beautiful foot, slides the sandal from her foot and tosses it out the window into the median strip.

The traffic light changes and the cars merge onto the ramp, homeward bound.

After the sandal, I began noticing lost, tossed out or forgotten objects around me.

There was a single black sock on the sidewalk, perhaps falling out a stuffed laundry bag belonging to a young newcomer to NYC – one who’s getting used the chore to lugging a bag several blocks to the local laundromat.

On Wednesday evenings in my neighborhood, people haul bulky items for the next day’s municipal trash pickups. On one such evening I saw two perfectly good van seats, bucket seats with nary a piece of duct tape adorning them. Why? I wondered. Half an hour later when I passed again, they were gone – recycled.

Ever Enthusiastic Husband and I passed a young couple debating the merit of a small carved table resting against a tree.

“Take it,” we urged. They did. And we practically clapped our hands. That’s a wonderful second chance—or fifth chance –for the table. Its story will have a sequel.

I haunt Greenwich Village. I look for remnants of its literary past. I search up and down the leafy streets, the twisty turning ones that befuddle tourists and -- even after decades – me. While the literary landmarks are still there. Here’s where Dylan Thomas drank. There’s where Edna St. Vincent Millay burned the candle at both ends. And over there? Why that’s apartment building where the beloved New York writer Grace Paley lived and worked.

And if I were looking for vivid story inspiration I’d only have to walk a few blocks.

Caught on a fire escape, I saw an overturned bag of clothes: men’s shirts, jeans, tee shirts trapped a story above the street.

That looked like a bad ending to me.

For a time, you could look up, especially around a school or playground and see a pair of athletic shoes, laces tied together, dangling from an overhead wire or lamppost. This was the work of schoolyard tormenters. Grab a kid’s shoes and toss them. Laugh. And run.

By and large, here in the city I haven’t seen it for a time.

I did see the old-grab-the-shoes-and-toss in an unexpected form – probably the work of some struggling street artist. Hanging from an overhead wire over a downtown, now artsy street were perfectly crafted cardboard high tops (trainers).

A tourist raised his camera.

“Isn’t it great?” I burbled.

“It’d be better if they were real,” he looked at me.

“That’s why it’s great,” I explained.

Then I was compelled to go on. And on. About objects lost. About objects thrown away.

It was all, I fear, lost in translation.

But if he saw the silver sandal, he’d know immediately it had a story.


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