|The Stoop After a Big Snow|
On a sunny day, a few years after the brownstone of my youth was sold by my aunt, I packed up my two boys to visit the old neighborhood. I had moved out of New York City but occasionally returned to my old stomping grounds to visit, shop and buy a specific pastry only found in the local bakeries (something heavenly I always called a "chocolate bell"--a moist, rich hunk of chocolate cake topped by a dollop of chocolate cream and totally enrobed in dense, shiny chocolate ganache---in the shape of a bell. The chocolate bell is, perhaps, the greatest invention of mankind edging out penicillin and the light bulb by a crumb) and gaze lovingly at the exterior of my old house and, of course, actively hate the new people inside.
On this fateful afternoon, I pull into the spot by the fire hydrant directly in front of the house and look upward only to get one of the most extreme shocks of my life as well as a whole new reason to hate--and plot to murder--the people now occupying my former address. Brace yourselves, stoop lovers--the stoop was gone.
Completely. Lopped off. No more. In it's place was a paved parking spot. Gone, also, was the silver maple I had planted when I was four and which had grown into a magnificent shade tree. Gone was the small garden with the mock orange bush. Gone were the four o'clocks, the irises, the wild chives and the clumps of purple violets. Gone.
The front of the house had been redone entirely. The only entrance was on the ground floor now. I think I blacked out because I, literally, don't remember what happened next. It must have involved some form of hysteria because I had black trails of mascara running down my cheeks and the kids were screaming. My stoop was gone. The lions, gone. Where were they? In a dump? Their granite faces staring at nothing from the bottom of a mountain of refuse. I am feeling faint just writing this.
The house is like a body without a head now. I still visit the street and sit sadly in front. Yes, I believe in progress. And, yes, I know the value of a place to park but to remove a stoop is a criminal action. I am too scared to ring the bell and try to talk to the monsters within so I just sit and think awful thoughts about them. Often my grown sons accompany me. Only the older of the two ever played in that now-spectral front yard but both share my sense of loss.
Even in its wildest dreams, my stoop never imagined an internet that would host its tribute. I will return again to sit and hate the people who removed it and then drown my sorrows in a chocolate bell...or two. I will also enjoy my memories--when my block was the most beautiful place in the world and I was the ruling princess of an artfully built structure made of limestone and sandstone known by the term "stoop." To exist in memory is not such a bad thing, I suppose....especially when the memories are as good as mine.