How I Sorta Saw The Pope

“Is this one of your crazy ideas?” my 10-year-old asked, as I hurried her to put on her shoes with promises of ice cream.

I had been sitting home watching CNN’s coverage of the Pope’s mass at Madison Square Garden when I snapped. Minutes later, after having bolted from my downtown Manhattan apartment with my daughter Savannah in tow, I was shoving us both into a packed #2 train and headed toward the 34th Street subway station.

Pumped with images of the Pope crisscrossing the city shaking hands, blessing photos and kissing babies, compounded by my failed attempt to catch him leaving the 911 Memorial, I had one thought as I headed uptown: “It’s now or never.”

By the time we reached the 34th Street subway station, the crowd was thick and difficult to navigate, but we eventually landed a spot at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue, a block north of the Garden. Savannah, grabbing the iPhone, wormed her way to the front of the barricade, while I hung in the back.  Once locked into place there was nothing to do but stand and wait in a crowd that for New York was unusually calm.

“Ah, the dogs are here. It won’t be long now,” the African American woman standing next to me announced to no one in particular after about 20 minutes.

She was right. Moments later the crowd broke into cheers.  As I arched forward to see what was the commotion about, a blizzard of black cars and motorcycles whizzed up 7th Avenue. In what felt like a very surreal moment was over in seconds.

I caught the eye of the African American woman, who seemed equally bewildered with the feeling of “was that it?”  I then heard the cop on the other side of the barricade chuckle.

“I didn’t see the Pope,” Savannah said, retreating from her front row spot to show me her pictures.

“Didn’t you see the white cap and hand raving to the crowd?” I asked.

My ego, the part of me who for once was proud to have been raised Catholic, wanted the Pontiff to jump down from the Popemobile and work the New York crowds politician style. Instead I got was a glimpse of something white and lifelong bragging rights.

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