Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Loving New York

In Love, Who, where, how? on February 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I got to New York by default. I had made several trips to visit but living here was by happenstance.

The first time I got a glimpse of this fabulous city, I was visiting as a post-debutante, pre-college student, an eighteen-year-old, wide-eyed ingenue with life stretched before me like a golden brick road. New York was just like I pictured it. Big. Bad. Dramatic. I stayed at the Iroquois Hotel on 44th Street – two doors down from the Algonquin. I peered through those windows pretending I was a celebrated reporter/writer in a ’40s-style hat with a wicked tilt. It was the ’70s, but I dressed with a ’40s flair – tailored suits, seamed stockings, open-toed heels, an upswept hairdo with a cascade of curls above the brow. I fancied myself just like New York. Big. Bold. Dramatic. Yet as bad as I wanted to be, New York scared me, and I scurried back home to Ohio after my two week visit.

Fast-forward to age twenty four. My second visit to the city was more as a young sophisticate. I had a college degree in hand, and two years of work as a news reporter in Columbus giving me a more confident, almost cocky walk. I had come with my cousin who was vacationing. I, on the other hand, was job hunting. Still, we did the city in spectacular style. My cousin, who worked for an airline, was just as bombastic as I, so we both knew how to “live large” on a budget.

She got half-price fare on hotels, and half of that (with us sharing the room) suddenly made the Park Plaza on 5th Avenue affordable. We became instant snobs. Dining in the Russian Tea Rooms, riding the horse-drawn carriages through Central Park, tipping bellboys (and detaining the cute ones), going to Studio 54 – and being turned down! We were aghast. Came back to the hotel mirror to look at ourselves in black dresses and shiny black heels and decided we weren’t wild enough, funky enough, and “heroin chic” looking enough to be picked for that stupid ol’ Studio 54. I looked for a job at NBC and the Sheridan Broadcasting Network, where I landed an interview but not a job. My cousin noticed at nights I drank to excess and often needed a drink in the morning. Of course, she drank and got giggly herself. Little did I know the clutch of alcohol was sinking its talons deep within.

My fourth trip to New York was different from my heady Park Plaza days. I was thrity-eight years old, had one marriage in L.A. behind me, and a secomnd husband in L.A. from whom I was separated. I ran to New York with my alcohol and drug counselor to get away from it all. Yet I was not getting away but hauling a truckload of ghost baggage with me,

By that time I not only had an alcohol habit, but a powder and crack cocaine habit, had lost my reporting career, and had been hospitalized over twenty-two times for manic depression. Big. Bad. Dramatic. New York I hardly knew “ye.” But the Lord would set me free.

Tory Connolly Walker

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