That afternoon in New York, Elyssar felt special as she walked up to the entrance of the Cole Haan shop on Fifth Avenue and introduced herself to one of the women standing by the door. The group of onlookers gathered outside the velvet rope granted her a quick scan then turned their eyes away in anticipation of the next arrival. They were here to spot celebrities and she sure didn’t look like one.
The black clad girl checked her list and flashed a well aligned smile.
“Please come in, Ms. Awwad,” she said, unhooking the velvet rope as if it were the gate to heaven.
Elyssar returned the smile and stepped into the store. She congratulated herself on finally getting out of her hotel. She’d given herself two full day to cry and watch the news in her room but as everyone in Lebanon had reassured her of their safety, she’d decided to do the best with her stay in New York and called Bespoke, her personal concierge service, asking for a list of things to do in New York.
This event was the first one on the calendar and couldn’t have been more serendipitous: it featured a discussion with Cynthia Nixon, the actress who played Miranda on Sex And The City. Elyssar had begged and pleaded with Bespoke to get her name on the list. They obliged, but not without highlighting how difficult a task they’d been able to complete, since her request came in at the last minute.
Once inside, she found herself in the midst of the ultimate New York crowd as she’d imagined it: well groomed women in designer clothes that highlighted their emaciated bodies; and handsome gay men in tight shirts chatting away while a herd of photographers recorded every detail. The shop had been modified to fit a small stage in the back, with three bar stools ready to seat the speakers.
She glanced at herself in a mirror, making a quick comparison with those around her. There was no matching the women’s super thin frame, shiny hair and toned legs; but her Chloe top-skirt combination and brown Jimmy Choo sandals screamed “on trend” and looked presentable. Thank God she’d had the sense to pack decent clothes; otherwise she would have never had the guts to go out in New York.
It took her a few seconds to realize that the person standing next to her was none other than Cynthia Nixon herself. She was shorter and slimmer than she appeared on TV and had changed her hair colour to blond, from the famous “Irish” redhead look she sported in the series.
Elyssar wanted to act blasé, but she was too star-struck to hide it. She stared without saying a word.
“I like your bag,” she said, looking prettier than her character did on the TV show.
Elyssar looked down at her purse. A twenty-five dollar beaded number she’d bought at a charity event in Dhour.
“It’s from Lebanon,” she replied, “handmade by the women in my village.”
A skinny girl in a black suit and black nail polish placed a bony hand on Nixon’s arm as a signal that the discussion was about to start. The actress nodded politely and moved away. Elyssar immediately took to her phone, texting in a frenzy.
“Guess who I just chatted wt? Miranda fm SATC!”
She sent it to all of her cousins, as well as Reem and Rouba.
Rouba’s reply came back on the spot.
“U kidding! Wher did u meet her?”
“@ an event. Bespoke put me on guest list.”
Elyssar looked around; a lot of other people appeared to be texting or emailing from their phones so she didn’t feel too awkward.
“What did u tell her?” Rouba replied.
“I invited her 2 visit us in Lebanon. She said she heard it’s this summer’s hottest destination.”
“LOL! U been n NYC 2 days and ur rubbing elbows wt A-List!”
“Ya,” Elyssar replied “I’m an It! refugee.”