It was my birthday; I’d walked to the Lower East Side to buy red lipstick. I forget, now, if I bought any or not.
I was reeling in the free feeling of Birthday; no place I had to be, on a wander on my own alone.
I walked down Orchard Street, still window-shopping. One of those folded signs on the sidewalk: “Magical Flying Carpet Shop.” It indicated a basement, the kind you entered through a metal door on the sidewalk.
I did not need a carpet, but I always, always need more magic in my life.
I descended the stairs.
It was another world. Oriental rugs covered every surface. They carpeted the floor, and sat piled around the perimeter. There were elegant, spindly little tables, and soft lamps hanging from the ceilings.
I wandered around for a few minutes, stroking a few carpets. I left dazzled by the strangeness of coming across such a place.
Just a few weeks later, I was back in that neighborhood with friends. “Guys, I found this place,” I said, and we walked up and down Orchard Street.
It was gone.
I know what I saw. And I have a business card, taped into my journal entry from that day, taken from one of those spindly little tables.
But the city has never revealed that place to me since.