In Hello, Dolly!, Dolly Levi waits for a sign to know if she should marry Horace Vandergelder. When he announces that the shutters will be painted forest green, Dolly gets her sign. When I moved to Budapest, I didn’t need a sign to know I had made the right move. But I got one anyway. Mine wasn’t green though. It was yellow.
One day when I was in third grade, my friends and I volunteered to help my teacher Miss Greco after school when she was cleaning out her classroom. Miss Greco pulled out a bunch of old books and games and costumes and put them on the table. For helping, she said we could take whatever we wanted. Smart teacher. I took a wrinkled poster.
In the poster stood a yellow church with a top that looked like an ice cream cone had fallen on it. Beside it — a Pinocchio-like house with flower boxes spilling with red geraniums. High mountains topped with snow rose high in the background. Centered in the steeple was a round white clock with black Roman numerals. The photographer must have taken the photo at exactly 3:00 because that’s what the hands showed.
As the years went by and the other posters on my bedroom walls changed from animals to cars to bands, my yellow church stayed. Most nights it was the last thing I saw before going to sleep. Someday, I wanted to find that church and go inside.
One afternoon my first week in Budapest, I was walking around my neighborhood when my heart stopped. There at the end of the street stood a yellow church with an ice cream top. I raced over to it. Squinting in the sun, I looked up at the clock. The time – just short of 3 o’clock.