I was walking down Ninth Avenue, somewhere between 45th and 50th Street, when pain overtook my left foot. Within seconds my quick stride halted, the couple I’d just breezed past gained 20 yards on me, and I was in danger of missing my bus from Port Authority back to New Jersey.
My toes curled and twisted, every muscle in my left foot erupting in mutiny of the heels I’d been wearing all day.
I didn’t stop. For a block and a half I walked, dragging my left foot behind me, careful not to catalyze any further spasms. I expected confused looks (or sympathy, maybe) but no one seemed to notice. After all, a limp is hardly the strangest of sights in New York.
Too far from the A-C-E lines to take the subway, I finally just stopped to wait for the pain to subside. Leaning against a storefront in the eight-degree cold, I watched couples holding hands, friends leaving dinner and suits stumbling out of happy hours. I felt awkward standing by myself while watching all these people pass, and realized my fingers were too cold to even distract myself with my phone.
After a few minutes I turned around to look inside the closed store. A glowing neon sign faced me, reading: “BACK AND FOOT RUB.” I laughed out loud.
Some would say it was coincidence, but I believe the city has a way transforming into exactly what you need it to be, at any given moment. By the time my smile faded, so had the pain, and I continued on.
I knew this was the New York’s way of telling me, “I got you.”