Meet Hilda, Pearl, Trudy, Florence, Diana, Freide and Rena, my 92nd Street Y Ladies of Rockland County who joined me for 15 years, as we finished work on Mondays and made our way into New York City for an evening of great food,passionate conversation and for dessert, the Poetry Center at the 92nd Street Y for readings by the leading writers, poets and playwrights of the moment, before Barnes and Nobel had yet to “borrow” the idea.
We could have it all and still be home before the 11 o’clock news.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an easy move from my comfortable teaching position in my hometown. I loved the kids, my classroom and my work with them on the stage.
I loved being close to my family, my young nephew and nieces but after 12 years, I was restless and frustrated and ready to be closer to the Big Apple.
Most of my colleagues thought I was crazy to give up my tenured position to start over. I knew it was a risk, but I was really ready for a change, confident that I would rise to the challenge.
And I did get a new job, teaching English in an 8-12 building and directing plays in the theater program and my new English department welcomed me warmly.
But there was no way I could have predicted how difficult the transition would be: new school, new kids, no reputation, no friends nearby. I did though have future friends around me, in my department. Hilda held out a donut and a cup of coffee at Aunt Molly’s at 7:45 AM, just before school started and I jumped for it and we began our mornings together for my first year.
I remember the first time I met “the group”. With the Jewish holidays coming on the heels of the new school start, Hilda thought that I might like some of her famous honey cake at the party she threw annually on the first day of Rosh Hashonah. The holiday fell out in the middle of the week and it was too hard to get home. I graciously accepted that year, and every year since.
Hilda, Pearl, Trudy, Florence, Diana, Rena and Freide, threw me a lifeline 22 years ago and they continue to enrich my life.