After spending my senior year of high school earning school credit working in Manhattan each day as a newspaper reporter, I had dreams of packing up and heading west. I don’t even know why I had such a burning desire to leave my NYC roots and what I imagined lay in store for me on the West Coast. Perhaps I envisioned an oasis similar to La Jolla, where I’d spent two weeks visiting a friend, although without the deep pockets of said friend’s family my west coast reality would have been more akin to the seediest part of the Sunset Strip!
I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do, all I knew was that I just needed to get straight out of Brooklyn. Unfortunately my mother was convinced my only means of success was predicated on marrying well and reeling in the right kind of guy. My dad, who knew I had dreams bigger than that of snagging a husband, quietly and gently supported my efforts to do things my way. Of course my mother thought I was insane. She couldn’t fathom that my dreams were better than landing a husband. She couldn’t fathom that I might want something for myself, I might want to carve out a career and a passion that was just mine. I remember my father smiling at me and as I tried to rationalize my dreams, although I couldn’t quite articulate what they were specifically, and reassuring me that he would support me. He would help me and agreed it was important for me to find my passion. To find my purpose. And if marriage and motherhood was not it , he would support and still love me and reminded me I would still have value. He told me he would talk to my mother. And he did. He was my biggest advocate.
Although I never made it out West- I did manage to secure an apartment in Manhattan, or rather a futon bed in a living room. I also enrolled at Hunter College and pounded the pavement until someone finally gave me a chance to show my prowess as a waitress at night at an Italian restaurant. While my mother was not thrilled- I knew my dad was proud of my convictions. Whenever he found time to stop by the restaurant after work, he would sit at the bar, and watch me wait on customers, with the biggest grin on his face. To say he was my biggest fan would be an understatement. He was the president of my fan club, and I truly believe that he took pride in the fact that I was intent on carving out a niche for myself and that I was determined to help pay my rent while I was in school. He appreciated my feisty determination- and it was he who bought me that bow tie I’m wearing in this picture.
Through each successive waitressing job I took to continue to be able to live in NYC while attending school and take acting classes on the side he was there, cheering me on. And eventually when I decided to major in journalism he threw his support behind me. When I felt completely dejected over not getting a certain magazine internship- he was there- to rally around me and remind me to keep plugging away. He would visit me at night on his way home from work. He’d stop by my apartment and ask me to give him clippings of my articles- (which I later found out he saved in a special book). He would remind me that the grunt work was worth it. He would encourage me to hang in there when I felt like I spent my days getting coffee and not getting enough words written on paper. At every twist and turn early on in my career, when I’d be on the phone and feeling anxious he would talk me off the ledge and remind me how proud he was of me. He wouldn’t let me give up.
And when I secured my very first PAYING job as a writer (at a Commercial Real Estate Business magazine) the beams of happiness which emanated from his face could have powered a jet engine. I distinctly remember posing for this picture shortly after I’d been hired. His belief in me, when I was embarking on my post high school life’s adventure, is what ultimately fueled my belief in myself. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate all his belief in my success even when I didn’t believe it myself.