New Haven, Connecticut--home of Yale University, the Yale Bowl, the Long Island Sound-- the town where my parents met and loved and started a commercial design business. New Haven is where I was born and grew up.
I mention all of the above because they figured heavily in my childhood. We lived just around the corner from the Bowl, and while I hated the football games, I parked cars on my lawn for $5 each Saturday. I worked for my parents on weekends and met a never-ending supply of Yalies also working there to earn some extra cash. Yale was all male at that time. The guys needed to meet women--even "townies"--were acceptable, and I, caught at an all girls' school, needed to meet boys. Yale was also a source of beauty, open lectures, social events, as well as a constant supply of boys.
The Sound is where I learned to swim , taking Red Cross courses at 6 AM and trying to ignore both the cold water and the numerous low-tide crabs. New Haven, which seems to consist mostly of Yale today, was even called the "model city" in the 60's.
I attended Case Western Reserve and earned a BA in English. Then I tolerated New York City's intensity (sorry!) long enough to earn a MA in English at NYU. In those days I taught high school English, desiring only to make my students feel for the confused Hamlet, weep for the deluded Othello, welcome the poetry of Keats and TS Elliot, and most importantly, learn to write well.
After a time that desire led me to teach writing at Penn State University--Abington Campus.
Those are the easy details to explain. When I was 42, I sat down one night and saw the road of my life fork into two directions. The path that was fading was the world I'd created with my college sweetheart, my husband of almost 19 years, and the father of our three children. The other road, unraveling darkly, was the terrifying way of my new life: Widow.
My darling husband was diagnosed with AML, also known as "galloping leukemia." He entered the hospital on a Thursday morning and died exactly 7 weeks later. Long enough, I'd tell some friends, to realize what was coming.
"What are you going to do?" he asked me that last morning just before we left for the hospital.
"I'm going to raise these kids," I promised. Our youngest was only seven.
Over the years I devoted most of my time to caring for my kids. Now twenty years later, they have grown to adulthood, and I can say with pride that I have raised them well.
And...somehow...I also maintained my sense of humor, passionately danced the rumba and tango all over Philadelphia, and decided one day to learn French. I grabbed my kids, their friends, and whoever else wanted to follow me, and traveled cheaply through Europe, renting apartments that were filled with old furniture and dust. No one cared.
These children are now fabulous adults, talented, multi-lingual, productive. They are parents themselves and understand, now, my journey. As I continue to write, I find my stories everywhere--in the imarginings my grandkids offer. In the tales I hear around me. In the history of the places I've visited. I remain open to all these stories and to writing my own happy ending.