The journey began on march 14th, 1962 but my record of it began in 2004.
Bridget Jones has nothing on me.
I found her diary hysterical. I can vividly recall sitting on a park bench at the end of 54th street overlooking the East river in Manhattan, actually laughing out loud with no regard to the odd glances from the passing pedestrians. I found the events in Bridget Jones’ life to be very funny but not unusual. The fact was that I could relate to almost all of them personally and, top each and every one. The biggest difference was that my life isn’t fictional.
As far back as I can remember I had major goals for my life. I needed to live in the middle of Manhattan. I wanted a large loft in Soho and a country home as well. I wanted a giant diamond ring. I was to be blissfully married to a successful, cool, chic Wall Street type. I would have liposuction, breast enhancement and mini eyelifts on an as needed basis. And although I love children, I never heard a clock ticking and assumed that it was for the best, as their schooling might very well interfere with our travel plans. I would spend plenty of time fundraising for the needy with enough time remaining to write my memoirs. It never occurred to me that I would not have all that and even more – I was always just waiting for it to arrive.
Well, I did move to Manhattan. I was engaged and the engagement lasted six short weeks of my forty three years. I briefly had the most gorgeous diamond ring you ever saw. My main man, Ivan, is a dog. I am still hopeful about the plastic surgery and I have no children to interfere with my traveling.
These days, it’s like a bad dream when I awake each morning to find that I am living with my aunt and her 112 pound dog Ali, in a suburban neighborhood in New Jersey. Fran never married and lives in the same house where my grandparents raised her and my father. She has also been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
You may be wondering why someone who was no doubt destined to be living the life of a devoted wife of an important power mogul, spending the days coordinating large fundraising events at significant museums throughout Manhattan for those less fortunate, is living with her aunt in the suburbs of New Jersey. Well, so am I.
Fortunately, I do know that it’s all just a matter of timing and it is all on its way. The man, the home, the purposeful career, the riches, the perfect volunteering opportunity, the memoirs and the face lift. This I truly believe – but for today, I will go to various department stores and sell my $22.00 bottles of shampoo to the women I want to become. I work for a high-end hair care company selling ridiculously expensive shampoos, hair masks, balms, gels and sprays to stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
I started my sales career almost 14 years ago selling fragrances for one of the largest and very well respected cosmetic companies in the world. I quickly emerged as their budding superstar claiming the title of #1 sales rep in the U.S. from the first quarter through the entire two years I spent with the company.
Right about the same time I got that job I moved into my uncle’s rent controlled apartment in one of the finest neighborhoods in Manhattan on East 55th Street. My uncle had been holding onto the lease here since 1972 and had not actually lived in the building for several years. I quickly accepted his offer and moved in to the $400.00 a month one-bedroom apartment in the best neighborhood I could imagine. Although I resided on the 2nd floor of an old rodent-infested walk up building, it was exactly where I needed to be. My neighbors included Sigourney Weaver, Bill Blass, Brooke Shields, Mario Cuomo, Nelson Rockefeller and Judge Judy, all of whom I would see on a regular basis. My immediate neighbors, the people who actually lived in my building, were an entirely different breed, and it made my days on E. 55th Street quite interesting to say the least.
There was Barbara on the 4th floor. Barbara weighed at least 350 pounds and had been living in her $192.00 a month rent controlled apartment for over 35 years. She had saved every paper she had read in those years and kept them in piles, which consumed her apartment. She was a political activist and considered herself a Quaker. Everyone in the building avoided Barbara, which was a difficult task, as it would take her nearly an hour to climb up to the 4th floor, therefore spending a lot of time in the hallways and stairwells! On the occasions you ran into Barbara she had you. Her size didn’t allow you to pass by and she would take advantage of the opportunity forcing you to listen to her diatribe about all the wrongdoings in the world, the dirty politicians and all of the suffering. She didn’t much like men and was convinced that they all wanted to rape her. She was in constant fear of being raped and had several extra bolts on her door to keep all the rapists out. She implored me to do the same. Barbara kept a number of cats in her apartment that burrowed within the maze of newspapers and kept her company. She once told me she had an 11 pound tumor in her stomach and didn’t even know it.
Barbara was my inspiration! She was exactly what I needed to follow through on my plans to get rich, make it big, marry, live in Soho and travel regularly to exotic places far away from the likes of Barbara. Becoming Barbara scared me and it was this thought precisely, that eventually forced me to leave 55th Street after 14 years and head for greener pastures in sunny California.
On the first floor lived Patricia and her transsexual lover whose name I can no longer recall. Patricia was also a transsexual. Together, they ran a “call girl” operation right there from their little studio apartment directly beneath me. They also had a #900 number service and there were no less than 35 phone lines running into their place from the roof. It was not uncommon for me to have to pass by several men, all perfectly normal looking in business suits and Burberry overcoats, waiting in line in the small lobby of my building each time I went out. I could never completely understand why men would pay money to have sex with a woman who was once a man. It was very strange to me but one of those things that made living in New York so adventurous.
Some of the neighbors in the building were not so amused by Patricia and her lovers’ operation. Patricia would regularly come to me, sometimes on the verge of tears, to inform me that once again, someone had gone to the roof and cut all the phone wires leading into her place. Occasionally who ever was doing this, would get a little scissor happy and cut my lines as well. I know she appreciated my sympathy and once even showed her appreciation by giving me a month long trial membership to her gym, which I gladly accepted. I do, however, have to admit my surprise when I walked into the women’s locker room at the gym, only to be greeted with a huge hug and hello from a transsexual in her underwear. At that time Patricia was not completely transformed as she was still “healing” and taking hormones before she could be considered a full-fledged woman. It was then still rather apparent to all, that she was a man in “the process” of becoming someone who I must admit turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous woman. I received a few odd glances from the other women in the locker room, stowed my things in a locker and proceeded to the gym for a great workout. All part of living in the big city I guess . . . .
Patricia and all, I loved that little apartment on E. 55th Street. It was about 400 square feet and I thought it was paradise. I remember one time my brother came to visit with his wife and three girls, the oldest of which was about five. While seated on my bed next to her mother, my five year old niece leaned over and whispered into my sister-in-law’s ear “Mommy, where is the rest of the house?” She then asked me if we could go see the back yard.
Not long after I moved into Manhattan and started my career with the cosmetic company, I met him. It was all working out just as I had planned. He was a very well educated attorney with one of the most prestigious law firms in New York. We both worked round the clock and I knew it would all be worth it once he made partner and I would quit lowly sales job and look for more meaningful work, plan our wedding and consider the possibilities of children.
15 years, two states, five apartments, five serious relationships and eight jobs later I find myself caring for my 63-year-old aunt in New Jersey, of all places. This of course, I do understand, is just a temporary blip on my road to success.
some more of the journey can be found in only in ny.
enjoy – -
“Materialism is the only form of distraction from true bliss.”