Saturday, January 3, 2009

A beautiful day

I have heard it said that "designer clothes are overrated." I say, unequivocally, that these people are wrong. Now, before you sigh a judgmental sigh of outrage, let me assure you, I am not an advocate of purchasing$1500 pairs of shoes. Do we need designer clothes? Blimey! No! But are the cuts and fabrics superior in every way imaginable? Yes. I decided to pretend for a couple of hours that I am above the American masses who rely on Isaac Mizrahi for Target to outfit my wardrobe and visit Bergdorf Goodman on 5th Avenue (they are famous for their gorgeous window displays at Christmas). I carefully walked through 5 of the 7 floors and I admit that there was one little dress made by an Italian designer featured on floor 3 that I salivated over for a good three minutes. Picture a knee-length, navy Audrey Hepburn with a slightly more dangerous neckline in the most perfectly textured satin imaginable. Voila! Knock-your-socks-off beautiful. On my way out I chatted with some women selling purses and I think they were a little embarrassed for me when I laughingly told them that this store was out of my price range. One of the sales clerks had a fantastic Russian accent and I was curious to know how this woman with a stylish silver coiffure ended up behind the purse counter at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

I passed lots of good-looking Italian tourists as I walked home and I think that Italians are generally fabulously good-looking people. At least the one's I have encountered. And they have one of the best languages/accents on earth. When I was in South Africa I spent a day with an Italian woman who recited a love poem she learned as a child and my friend Udo and I literally had to pause, gaping for just a moment, at the sensual words that easily rolled off her tongue. And just when my thoughts were lingering on beauty and my own shame for nestling back into consumeristic culture with far too much ease, I met an old woman on Madison and 59th who asked if I might help her across the street. I smiled broadly and offered her my arm and thought, "Do people still do this?!" Her pink cashmere gloves and the frail fingers beneath gingerly clasped my arm as we chatted about the sun and the wind. Her warmth melted my brooding and reminded me again, "O yes, this is beautiful. This moment just now." New York is full of surprises and full of beauty. The right kind.

Is there a broader juxtaposition between my world in Manhattan and Kitwe, Zambia?! I think not.


Peg said...

Great mini-visit to NYC through your eyes! Lovely. I'm glad you ventured into B&G - it has always sort of scared me :).

Jane said...

Hi - having links with Kitwe thro a twinning with our schools in SW UK and thro World Vision, we visited Kitwe 2 yrs ago and now support a young pastor setting up a pre-primary school in the shanty town of Kandabwe near the mine in Kitwe - he's connected to Comfort Ministries pentecostal church which meets in Kitwe in a school room! Reply if you'd like more info! I get Google alerts on Kitwe, hence received your blog. Have a wonderful time in Kitwe - we hope to return in 2010! Best wishes for your work there.

Carmen Goetschius said...

Kandabwe? That doesn't sound familiar to me. Kabwe (about 2 hours from kitwe)? Which mine was it in Kitwe-- Mopani mine? Hmmmm. I'm racking my brain at the moment. I lived and worked in Zambia for a year and now am back in New York city for the time being. I loved Zambia and look forward to returning someday, but for now my life and work is dedicated to translating some of these experiences to a congregation here in NYC. Blessings upon you as you continue to partner with this church/school! I have no doubt it is an important, vital ministry! Thanks for the message!

Jane said...

Hi Carmen - have a look at Kitwe on google earth and look at the west side of the city, about half way down (grid ref 12deg 49'05.9"S, 28des11'15.15"E) and you'll see a big orangey loop road around a squarish area near the railway with lots of little square houses in earth patches - that's Kandabwe shanty town! The mine is to the south of it but I don't know the name. NYC must be quite a contrast! Zambia's a great country, isn't it! Nice to e-meet you - best wishes for your work too!