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Memorable First Date

Life Story Club Contributor

Ok, I remember when I was living in Queens, before I moved back to Manhattan, a friend, a neighbor of mine on the 6th floor, she and I had become friends, she kept saying, “I have this wonderful man, you need to meet him.” I was like, “I am not interested in meeting any man, just leave me alone.” She kept pestering me, and I finally said, “Alright, give him my number.”

So then, our first date, he was Jewish but he had converted to Christianity. So our first date was to go to a church in Forest Hills, a church in the gardens in Forest Hills. When he picked me up, I thought, “Ew, too old and too ugly. Just another friend.” And then, a few days later, he kept inviting me out to his home out in Sag Harbor. I thought, “I’m not going to Sag Harbor, to a strange man’s home. Forget about it! I’m not doing that.” So I just kept saying, “No, I’m not going. No thank you. No, no, no, no, no.” Then finally when he came back to the city in September, he was the guidance councilor in the junior high that I had transfered to, he had been there forever and the kids adored him…Anyway, he came back to the city and he invited me to go out for dinner. We went out to a Chinese restaurant and we really had a great time. And I thought, “Hey, maybe he’s not so old and ugly after all.” So then we just started to date casually, whenever he was free and I was free.

He ended up being my second great love. I had my first great love when I was in Chile. So this one I had was my second iteration of “I don’t care how long this lasts as long as I get what I want.” Well I got what I wanted. He was a truly gentle person. I have never known anybody with as much gentleness.

So, the end of the story is not so great. We used to go to the beach, we used to play around on the main street in Sag Harbor. We would go watch the sunset on the harbor. We just had a wonderful time in living. And then, I was with him in Sag Harbor at his home, and a few months before my 50th birthday. He had asthma, and I kept say, “Honey, don’t you want to go to the hospital?”

“Nah, it’s too far away, I’ll be okay.” And he wanted to get me out to a farm so I could get my organic chicken eggs. So we got my organic chicken eggs. And in the middle of the night I hear him banging on the pipe in the bathroom. So I went down the hall to find out what was going on. He was having an asthma attack. While I was on the phone trying to get the police to come and get him to the hospital, because I didn’t drive, and I still don’t. He fell to the floor. I started to try and do CPR, and realized, okay, I was trying to do CPR on a corpse. It just doesn’t work. I just went into a state of shock. It was indescribable the state that I went into. Just unbelievable.

But I have all these beautiful memories. I have this lovely piece of jewelry that he had made especially for me for my 49th birthday. I have it in the box that he gave it to me in with the note that he wrote for me. So I just have beautiful memories of this man, he was just wonderful. We were planning to go down south, he was going to meet my finally. But it never happened.

I don’t even remember exactly how long we were together. A year and a half? But you know what, it’s not the length of time. It’s the quality of that time. And the quality of that time, was amazing. We had such a wonderful, wonderful life together for that time. I have absolutely no regrets.

And I have absolutely no regrets about the Scottish guy who broke my heart into a million pieces in South America, because I have lived. And I have memories that no body can take away from me. They’re my treasure.

Greatest Spectacle

Life Story Club Contributor

I’ve had so many experiences. Bryce Canyon was amazing, the Grand Canyon was incredible. I’ve done just a little bit of traveling. I think one of the most amazing sites I’ve ever seen was Antarctica. It breaks my heart that it’s melting now but it was just the most unbelievable site. It was total desolation. There was nothing there but snow and ice, but the penguins and I just had such a wonderful time together.

Penguins are just the most amazing animals. I was fascinated. They mate for life and the fathers have this fold and they tuck the egg under the fold and the mother goes swimming off to bring back krill, so she fills up her belly and she comes back. She finds her mate and finds her baby. It’s amazing because how do they know who is who but they do, so she finds her mate, she finds her baby. She would feed the baby the krill for her belly. The little baby would open its mouth and she would deposit the krill down the baby’s throat.

They walked around and they were up and down the glaciers. They were just amazing and you could tell where they had been because the krill was pink. They would slide down the glacier and mess while they were sliding so there would be pink trails on the glaciers and the penguins’ white chests would be pink from sliding in their own dodo. They were just incredible. They really were.

The man who discovered the Adelie penguins named them after his wife.

It drives me crazy that people are eating krill oil now because that is their food. We have no business eating the penguins’ food.

It was just an unbelievable sight. Getting there was kind of incredible too. I had what was supposed to be an outside, ocean-view window view on the ship. But what happened was they closed my portholes, so I was closed in and I couldn’t get out. At 2:30 in the morning I was hearing so much noise because as it turned out, as we were going through the Strait of Magellan, the ship had to have an icebreaker on the front and it made such a racket. The experience of being on that ship, on that water, was an experience like nobody had before. It was going front to back, side to side. The only thing that was holding me in my bed was gravity.

At 2:30 in the morning, I thought, “I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to see what’s going on.” I got up, put on my clothes, and went up to one of the decks where I could see out and it was spectacular and I have seen lots of spectacular things. Doing the Wino in Peru, dancing in the streets at a festival to honor to saint of the dogs, believe it or not. I’ve just had so many experiences in Puerto Rico, in Mexico and everywhere.

The only way to get there was by ship. I didn’t know this at the time, but this was the last time the Marco Polo was going to make the trip to Antarctica. I didn’t know that when I booked it. The Captain was a hoot. He was so funny. He must’ve had size 14 feet. He used to come and sit with us in the dining area and he’d sit and tell us stories. He was so much fun.

When we were going through the Norwegian Fjords, there was a young guy, he was from Norway. He was 32 and I was considerably older than that and he and I started to chat. He asked me one day if I saw blah blah blah and I said, “How do I know what I’m looking for? I don’t live in this country. I don’t know what I’m looking for.” He said, “Okay, we’ll meet here in this evening and we’ll go through the Fjords and enjoy them together, and I will tell you what to look for.” So that’s what we did. It was just great.

It’s fun to be a free spirit.

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What Makes Us Different

Life Story Club Contributor

I was born and raised in the segregated South. I would say things and people would say to me, “Where the hell did she get that idea from?” So I grew up knowing I had been born in the wrong place. Not necessarily with the wrong family—I guess I had the right mother, she was really quite wonderful. I just always knew I had to get out of there, so I got out of there three weeks after I graduated from college.

And I came to New York. I started out in the Summerstock Theater in Long Island, not as an actress, but making hamburgers! Running the concession stand for people who were there. There was such competition between the stars and the wannabes. It was kind of amusing. It was quite an experience.

Then I moved to Chile. I had always wanted to live in a foreign country so I moved to Chile and that really gave me my career because became an ESL, bilingual teacher. I designed and coordinated ESL programs and I was really loved by my students and I loved them. It was really quite great. My life hasn’t been like other peoples, but living in a foreign country in a desert, ten thousand feet above sea level, and working in a mining camp just gave me my life basically.

And because I was in a mining camp, there were a lot of guys. I was invited to join a table that was all men. I was the only woman that was ever allowed to sit at that table. Another female tried and they said, “Sorry, only Leathea can sit at that table with us, so you may leave.”

I’ve always been an outsider everywhere I’ve been. It’s not that I thrive on it, but I had to learn how to thrive on it. I had to learn to accept that and to accept myself.

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Living Abroad

Life Story Club Contributor

April 7, 2020

Let’s see, a story? I could relate to Carmen’s story about living in a foreign country because I lived in a place that when I first got there I’m like, “Oh my God, what have I done?” I once lived in Chupacamagua, Chile, in the middle of a desert, 10,000 feet above sea level. And I’m like, “Oh my God, I love green and water, and all I see is one huge brown mountain with nothing on it after the other, after the other. The only thing on these brown mountains is gravel.” And it ended up being the most wonderful experience of my life. It was just really wonderful.. It was incredibly satisfying to be totally accepted and just to do whatever I wanted to do. I was totally loved, totally cared for, and I was happy. It was not easy. It was really a crazy life up there in the mining camp, but it was wonderful.

And where I had always said, “Okay God, as long as I get what I want for a mate, I don’t care if it only lasts for a year as long as I get what I want.” Well, I got what I wanted, and I danced all night. I knew what it was like to dance all night and your feet don’t touch the floor. And I wasn’t really into ballroom dancing but he was, so I would stand on his feet and he would ballroom dance and I would stand on his feet he would dance me around the dance floor. But anyway, it was a wonderful experience and the thing that always makes me smile is the squirrels. I love squirrels and we have plenty of them running around Penn South, and I just love them. I also love children. I have just always lived in the present moment. I don’t hunger for the past, I don’t worry about the future, I just live now.

It’s very hard to do, but I do it. When I was a child, I knew I had been born at the wrong place. I was born and raised in the segregated South in a small town in South Carolina. And when I was three years old, somebody asked me, “What are you going to do when you grow up, little girl?”

And I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to teach Negroes.”

And they’re: “What? Where the hell did she get that idea from?”

So when I was 10 years old, I didn’t talk to anybody about what I was thinking. But when I was 10, I said, “I’m leaving here when I’m 18.” And I always wanted to be in New York. I wanted to be where was culture, museums, theater, opera. I just always wanted to be where there was culture. So when I was 10, I said to myself, “I’m leaving here when I’m 18.” But when I was 11 I said, “You’re going to get a college degree and then you’re leaving here and you’re going head to New York.” And that’s just what I did. I got my college degree and three weeks later, I got on a Greyhound bus and came to New York state, not New York City. I started out in the summer stock theater in Long Island, a very famous one at the time.

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