Easter, my first in New York. Mother takes me to the Met to see Manon, the tragic story of two lovers who defy the world but end up destroying each other. I'd like to think she's trying to tell me something. It's a matinee, in the spring sunshine the colorful Chagalls are covered up and the white stone facade with its tall arches looks less inviting, harder somehow.
We take our seats, mother dressed dramatically in flowing cascades of finest smoke black Italian silks, me in a gray pencil skirt and my highest heels. Just as the lights fade and the orchestra starts playing I turn to the right and time comes to a sudden halt the moment I see her, seven or eight seats away: the woman in black from the party. She doesn't look at me but I can't escape the eery feeling of being constantly watched. Between acts I follow her out into the lobby but lose her somewhere in the crowds, when we return her seat is empty and she doesn't come back.
The opera goes on like a machinery, in the final act the protagonist dies in the arms of her lover, singing ...et c'est là l'histoire de Manon Lescaut. Mother gets up, almost loses her balance for a second but regains her posture, walks out beneath the arches and all the way home without saying a single word, eyes straight forward. I think she saw her too.