Joyless Dancer



City Hall Park, NY, NY

Neighborhood: Financial District

A young woman dressed in a leotard was dancing in City Hall Park today. The sun was brilliant and warm, the fountain flowing with water and the soft sound of an alto sax in the background.

I felt nurtured in the sun, and great joy looking at the voluminous colors of spring tulips in luscious, full bloom.

The young dancer was now in my periphery. “Get out of my way,” my mind kept saying, “go somewhere else, don’t dance here.” She was making fun of the passersby dressed in business attire, there was no joy, just making fun. She seemed to enjoy humiliation.

I grew up Jewish in New England and was constantly humiliated by the kids after school, running after me and throwing garbage and tin cans at me while yelling out “dirty Jew, dirty Jew.” David Spinney was especially frightening, threatening me in the schoolyard each and every day. I asked my mom if she would meet me after school to walk home with me, but she always said “No,” and dad was never around and thought I was always making up stories.

Time went on and I went to a junior college down South. I was the only Jew. Friends would invite me to their homes, and then report back what there parents said about my visit. “If we knew she was such a nice Jew, we would have invited her sooner.” I found out later that these parents were part of the Klu Klux Klan. The second year I was there I had a private room and kept my door locked at night. One afternoon, I walked into my room and smelled rotten cheese. Someone had smeared it all over my lipsticks and when I opened my close closet doors, there were meat bones hanging with blood dripping down to the floor.

I moved to another bench in City Hall Park. One that was far away from the dancer, and where I was surrounded by yellow, white, pink and red tulips. I was glad I had become an Interfaith Minister two years prior.

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