Turns out 19 isn’t very old, but from my perspective at the time, I was world savvy. So here goes.
I always planned on being a singer and as it turns out I am a pretty successful jazz singer in the city. But at 18, I had decided to be an opera singer. In my search for a teacher, ballsy me, courageous me, determined me, sent a letter to Beverly Sills, one of the greatest coloratura soprano’s in the world, asking her for a voice teacher recommendation.
Beverly Sills, if you don’t know her, look her up and listen to her, she was impressive. She was a world class diva! Ms Sills actually took the time to write me back and recommended a teacher for me in New York City who was the coach to all the singers at the New York City Opera.
So there it was, my path laid out. I would go to New York and audition for this great maestro. And so I did. Very nervously of course, being a kid in New York City and I must add, a very sheltered kid who had really never been away from home, except for the time I was at overnight camp for 3 long weeks when I was 11. But now at 19, I was in charge of my life. I auditioned for Jack Harrold and he accepted me. As a side note, he also spoke to his little puppy in Italian and I’ve always wondered how that pup could understand him.
So I took four trips to New York and with 4 lessons under my belt I told my parents that I planned to move to New York City. I was going. There would be no stopping me. The response was mixed. How could they not be totally supportive? This was my path, my life. I couldn’t figure out how a dog could speak Italian, but I was going to take the leap and move to New York City and be totally invincible. It was the greatest opportunity I ever had, would ever have in in my life. There was no way I could not do this. To not do this, I would be a fool.
So I took my fifth trip out there for a whole week. The goal was to get a job and a place to live. Keep in mind New York is an expensive place to live and kind of scary for a 19 year old who’d never been out on her own! So what happened was, I found a job in a hospital, Belleview actually, a job in the physical therapy dept. You see, I had a lot of experience in PT because I had just spent a year and a half working as a physical therapy tech at the neighborhood hospital. Something I had never been trained to do but I fell into it and I’m a quick study. And before that job I worked in a mental hospital. Something else I had never been trained for, but I fell into and picked it up quickly. It was a different time then. Belleview not only offered me a job but they had a place for me to live. Okay, bam. I had just nailed it, a job, an apartment and a prestigious voice teacher. I am so cool.
Home again to share the great news. My step father seemed skeptical and my mother didn’t want to lose me and so had decided not to speak to me ever again. The family would disintegrate. She heaped a lot on my shoulders as if I were the only reason the family stayed together.
I knew my parents were deeply in love but somehow with her Mommy magic I started to believe that if it wasn’t for me the family unit would collapse. I started to get terrible headaches. I ignored them at first and in spite of them I made my plans to head to New York. In spite of the headaches and my Mom’s tears. Well the headaches grew worse I couldn’t take a step without this horrendous pounding in my head, it was getting hard to function.
I decided to go to the doc. He prescribed some heavy duty medicine and sat me down for a talk. He felt it was his duty as soon as I told him I was moving to New York City. What he said which I still remember to this day, “A young girl in a place like New York City, alone, well I wouldn’t do it if I were you and I wouldn’t let my daughter do it either. It’s a very dangerous idea. Don’t do it.”
With those very words I made the decision not to go, not to leave my family, not to take chances. Maybe he was right. But it was a decision I have regretted my whole life. Magically my headaches went away. My mother was happy again and my step dad was smiling all the time. The family would be together through thick and thin. I would always feel full of regret but relieved in some sense because I made my parents happy and I didn’t have to pretend that I wasn’t scared, because let’s be truthful, inside I had been shivering in my boots, so to speak.