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Wondrous Nature

Life Story Club Contributor

July 8, 2020

 have a story for each one of the questions and they’re short. The first one is about a natural disaster. When I was teaching in my first job as a water therapist in a special education school, I had a class where there were two boys. The pool was three foot deep at the deep end and there was a ramp. And one day, the secretary came in and she says, “Please keep the boys calm.” So I wasn’t thinking anything about it, so I was doing my class as usual. We got out of the pool. They got dressed. I sent them back to their room. And I didn’t know why she said that. Well, it turns out that there was a tornado that hit the school not far from us, jumped over the school, and landed at our family cemetery. And there was destruction in the cemetery and one of the large trees fell on the ground. And so later on that day, my mom and my grandmother went to the cemetery just to see what was going on. And I have a picture of this tall lady standing in front of the tree that had fallen down and the root was almost at big as my grandmother. So I was looking for the picture and I just couldn’t find it, but I know I do have the picture.

The second story is about something beautiful. I am an avid folk dancer. And my mother and I took an Amtrak train from Chicago to Seattle. While I was in Seattle, we found this folk dance group in this building. So I just went right in and I started dancing. And there was a new song that I had heard, and I brought a tape recorder and we taped the music. On the way back home, I was playing this music while in the top car of the train. And there were beautiful mountains. And so, I always think of these beautiful mountains when I hear this dance today. The problem was that I lost the cassette tape recorder on the train and I couldn’t hear it. I didn’t know where it could have been. I got back to Chicago, attended one of the folk dance classes in Chicago, and some of the teachers went to Montreal and they brought back this dance. So now, I get the dance. I get the music. And every time I hear this dance played and the meaning has nothing to do with the sound and the music. And the dance is called [?]. It’s a Macedonian dance, beautiful, slow dance. So it brings me memories of heaven and beauty, and it just makes me feel real good.

Overcoming Fear

Life Story Club Contributor

July 1, 2020

When I was in-between college and graduate school, I had this dream that I wanted to go to Alaska. I’m from New York. I grew up in Westchester, went to school in Buffalo and Rochester. And before I was gonna get my MFA in Rochester, I knew I had to do this thing and it was to go to Alaska. I don’t know why I wanted to go to Alaska, but I’ve always been fascinated with bears and camping and just the mountains. And it’s funny that my background is the way it is when I was thinking about the story, as I’m listening to all of you guys. So, I was really scared to do this and I couldn’t find anybody to go to Alaska with me. And at the time, my boyfriend, I’m like, “This is like, it’s a moment. Let’s go.” You know, we’re out of school. He didn’t want to go. And it was crazy. And so, what I did was I started like writing letters. This was so long ago before the internet. I was writing letters to this group called Women of the Wilderness. And they were right outside of Anchorage. And we wrote letters back and forth and their letters of encouragement to encourage me to travel by myself really propelled me to do it. So, I can’t be…I’m so grateful for Women of the Wilderness. And they were like, “Come and you can camp on our land and you’ll be safe.” Because you know, safety was a concern. So, I ended up…and this is again, a long time ago when you know, there was no internet. I drove down to like the airport JFK, one of the airports in New York to buy the ticket to go to Alaska.

My mom was floored. My grandmother was floored. My boyfriend was floored. They’re like, “What are you doing? You’re gone?” So, I got a ticket to go to Alaska for three weeks. And when I landed in Anchorage, I stayed at a youth hostel and I met a lot of other single travelers, which was so amazing. I made friends, we decided to go to Denali Park together. I went to Homer and Seward. I even hitchhiked on the back of a motorcycle. I can’t believe I did this today. When I think about it, I really can’t believe it. And I camped alone with the bears. I mean, I didn’t see a bear, thank God, but just doing that and then coming back and having that feeling that…I mean, I was young. I was like early 20s that I did this for myself and you know, my family was inspired by me and I made art about it. Looking back, it was like the first time in my life that really instilled some confidence in me that I could kind of do what I set out to do. Even though it was hard and I was alone, you know, it really was very rewarding. So, that’s my little story about overcoming a fear.

I went solo camping a lot after that. I lived in Colorado. I went to Hawaii by myself camping. I mean, it’s better when you’re with somebody, but I’m the kind of person that I’m not going to stop doing what I want to do if I have to wait for somebody. So, yeah. I know it’s very rewarding. And you know, the thing about traveling alone is you just meet so many more people than you would if you’re coupled up.

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