It’s August 16, 1976, and I’m on a flight to Dallas, Tx. My fiance sits next to me on an aise seat. I peer over his shoulder, look through the window into the grey clouds which seem to engulf our plane. Excitement and a thrill flow through me.I left New York. after thirty three years. How could this be?
We both graduated college with a teaching degree and a business degree. After looking for months we couldn’t find any good paying jobs; New York was on the verge of bankrupcy. My thoughts wandered to my graduation ceremony from New York Univesity held at Washington Square Park. I had graduated with honors after a ten year break from high school Proud, and confident,
I thought I can do anything now, be anything I want. I relaxed and drifted off until Jerry’s face appeared in my mind sleek, artful, the man who molded me for a time who helped to create the actress in me, whose mastery over me was so enticing.
Center stage right,” said Jerry, like this, as he swung his body around from back to front, spinning like a sexy lily opening up to full lotus position. Sweat oozed out of his pores. His face and shirt had waterfalls of sweat, streaming down into his blue shirt and jeans. It was a good sweat, healthy and sexy. A gush of excitement overtook me .My eyes were glued to this gorgeous man. I was thrilled with the way he moved on stage.
Next I was to follow his directives I stepped out across the stage from back right to center right. His voice became louder and more intense. “Go!! I was being led down a path of no return,never the same again. He the master, me his puppet. Yet, I enjoyed this male dominance I was becoming another person, the character, a dumb blonde in a play called Dueling Oaks. Difficult to play stupid. I fought it at first, yet I was here on stage and chose to get it right. Right for Jerry and the play’s production and right for myself.
I had joined this theater group to be involved in something I enjoyed never suspecting they were actually plannng a producton. Bob insisted that I could do it while we continued to look for work. I read my script out loud in the streets with Bob as we walked inorder to memorize it. I leaned heavily on his new positive parental voice, “You can do it.” “You’ll be fine.” always instilling confidence in me. What would I do without Bob,? the first person in my life who believed in my abilities. Any anxiety left me when Bob said, “You can.”
I invited my aunt Blanche, the Broadway actress to the play. I also thought Bob’s aunt would be there. These people’s presence made me even more nervous during my perfomance. To my amazement I later learned neither one was in the audience. I felt like I had performed to an empty audience although the the seats were filled. I loved doing theater and Jerry told me he was planning to form an upstate theater group. I had to join. After the show ended I was staring at a typewriter keyboard, ,not an audience. Taking temp jobs for work. . I missed the theater, Jerry, and the high I got from performing, I wanted to stay in the Bronx and be near Jerry especially since he told me his marriage was on the rocks. My aunt Blanche, the Broadway actress told me,you always fall in love with your first director. I didn’t want to leave the Bronx, yet the crime was out of control. I was on a block patrol in order to prevent some of these crimes in the area where I lived. We had walkie talkies to alert the others in our group :Dread flooded me as I saw but yet another local headline, Couple found gagged and dead in their closet.”
Bob had planned to leave as soon as he graduated college six months before I did and showed me ariticles in the New York Times about the booming economy in the Southwest. “Let’s go there. What!leave New York my home of thirty three years! This was my home and I had no intentions of ever leaving. “You go first and I’ll follow once you’re set up and let me know how you like it.” Bob replied, “You’re afraid to be here alone. All you got offered was a $400 teaching job in a private school?.It’ll be good for you to start fresh in a new state.” I thought, well what do I have here? Old friends I lost track of after high school,a good best friend who had recently died and Jerry the director. Jerry’s wife didn’t want him to do theater and instead wanted him to get a ‘real’ job. I suppose he wasn’t earning money. But his passion for the stage and his talent and she wanted him to give this up? She didn’t understand him; I did.
I called Jerry and he said, “Do you want to make an explosion?” “Uh oh” Was that all he wanted, a fling with me? It wasn’t mutual; I wanted a relationship. Who was the cheater? Bob thought I was engaged to him and I never told him othewise. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him, but it wasn’t passion, certainly appreciation, respect and caring but romantic love? We were a fit of a kind, but of what kind I’m not sure. I had a lot of fun with him, cherished his high opinon of me and his always egging me on, instilling confidence and believing in me.
Another phone call to Jerry, his wife answered coldly saying” Who is this? What do you want?”.Did she know? What did Jerry tell her? Then on another call, “The upstate New York theater isn’t gong to happen.” I knew then that I was going nowhere with Jerry and no doubt neither was his wife. Suddenly the idea of leaving New York and going to a new place, a fesh start appealed to me.
When Bob’s parents and mine learned of plans to leave, his father said, “We need a pow wow . We’re coming over”.The four of them decended on our Bronx apartment like four crows feeding on our plans to leave. We sat in a loose circle on six staight backed chairs. My father, said, “It’s not like living in New York. Nowhere is it like New York. Here we have the greatest transportation. Other states have next to none. Cousin Sadie in California tells me this all the time; she has to sit for many hours waiting on a bus. You can’t leave New York without knowing how to drive a car.” Dad was adament. he had an intense look in his eyes.His brow was tight. I could feel his fears for us” You have nowhere to live”. I already dealt with that glitch. A friend of my uncle’s lived in Dallas and was willing to pick us up at the airport and bring us to her apartment complex to rent a place of our own.
I had started taking driving lessons in the Bronx. Bob’s mother pursed her lips and had a look of disgust while turning her head to the side to look away with disapproval. Dad said, “a few lessons?” You need a car to learn on.” Continue reading