The Night I Changed My Life
During my senior year of college I spent half of it with my boyfriend. Then he left to go to New York City to take a job so he could make enough money to come back for the following year. Every night we talked on the phone for hours and though nothing had been said we were each so involved I knew this wasn’t any ordinary relationship. When at last I returned home for spring vacation, my parents had a long talk with me one night. They were concerned that I was wasting my chances with this young man who had just come back from serving in the military and hadn’t graduated from college. The year was 1965 and my parents wanted me to date other men. The argument went on for hours with me trying to explain why I was drawn to this extraordinary man and how he had affected me. They were worried that maybe he was going to dominate me and I wouldn’t reach my full potential. He had said some really dumb things in an attempt to be controversial as some young men who are rebelling within society will sometimes do. So my parents were worried and urged me with their angry voices to stop this nonsense and give him up. I wound up with tears streaming down my face staring my parents in the eyes and telling them I couldn’t stay there one second more.
In 1965 young girls did not wander around at night alone. I could barely see from the tears blinding me and I grabbed a few things and ran out the door screaming to them that I was leaving and going to my boyfriend who lived in an apartment hotel in Manhattan in a very seedy area. I lived in Kew Gardens, Queens and had to take two subway trains to get to him. I walked outside to a dark and empty street and hopped on a bus to the subway. I called him from a pay phone and said I was coming. We were very much in love so he was thrilled to have me come over to him. I didn’t care that it was past midnight and the subway was filled with the usual characters. There were homeless men who sat alone in the middle of a circle of empty seats. There were the entertainers who went from car to car trying to get people to give them money and of course there were the normal people who rode the subway with vacant eyes. I, not even 21, though a veteran subway rider during the day, had never been alone on the subway at night. I gritted my teeth and tried to be as invisible as possible as I rode the train to the hotel near 14th Street. When I got up the subway stairs to the bustling street I had a moment of panic. What was I doing? Would my parents ever talk to me again? I had no other place to live until I had to go back to school.
Approaching the apartment hotel, I felt a little awkward. Nice girls didn’t go into these places at night and especially to a man’s hotel room alone. I felt almost cheap and nearly left. However, I sucked in my breath and walked through the lobby to the desk clerk and asked him to notify the room. Riding in the elevator I still had second thoughts. But when I found the room and my boyfriend opened the door and saw me I walked into his arms. We spent the night together and the next day we went for a walk on a horse path near the hotel. He seemed nervous and unsettled. Finally, a little way down the path he stopped and got down on one knee with a ring box in one hand. He asked me to marry him and placed the ring, his grandmother’s pearl ring with diamonds on either side of the pearl, on my finger. I said yes and hugged him so hard we almost couldn’t stand. I knew then that my life had changed forever. I had made a decision to spend the rest of my life with this firebrand of a man and it went against all my parents had wanted for me.
Nothing was ever the same again and at that moment I said goodbye to the girl I had been and became the woman I was to be. The future was an open book and I was very happy to open it and begin my new life.
My life has had its ups and downs since that day and I have been at the side of this man as my husband since the day we married. We have navigated a very unusual life that has not been quiet or uneventful and he has never stopped being the same opinionated and argumentative man. My parents are long gone, but after that night they eventually learned to love him too.
Barbara Ehrentreu Bio:
Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. She has been editing for 4RVPublishing for several years. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor is Barbara’s first YA novel published by MuseItUp Publishing.
In addition she has a story in the anthology: Lavender Dreams and three poems in Prompted: An International Collection of Poems.
Barbara was a NY Literature Examiner for Examiner.com with several articles for them. Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children’s story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She has written book reviews for Authorlink.com. and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity Café. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life! You can find her on Twitter and on Facebook, and LinkedIn
Sonia Marsh Says: What a lovely story of the power of love, and how your “gutsy” decision at twenty, was the right one for you. As a mom, I understand what your parents were thinking and feeling, but you proved them wrong by having a long lasting marriage.
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Barbara Ehrentreu’s story is the third one this month. We also have Heidi Morrell’s, and Sharon Melton Lippincott’s. The vote for your favorite August “My Gutsy Story” will start on August 30th, until September 12th. The winner will be announced on September 13th.