This is Michelle
As I was walking through Verdi Square Park, a woman sitting on a bench called out to me. "Sir, you look like a New Yorker," and then pointed to a building and asked me the name of it. It is the Ansonia, and it is a landmark building. She asked if that was where John Lennon was shot. I explained that he was shot in front of the Dakota, on W. 72nd Street, and Central Park West.
This is Michelle. She is 68 years old and retired. Born in Alabama, her mother moved the family to Uniondale, on Long Island in 1968. Being black, she decided she had had enough of the Jim Crow South and believed that life would be better for her and her children on Long Island in New York. That was true. Michelle, her brother and her sister all grew up in Uniondale. She and her siblings all graduated from Hempstead High School. Her sister became a homemaker and remained in Uniondale. Her brother moved to Great Neck, also on Long Island and became a foreign car mechanic.
Michelle became an executive secretary for Merryl Lynch but, after eight years, left. She didn't like the way she was being treated. She wanted to work in the healthcare field; she was trained by the Visiting Nurse Association to become a nurse's aide. She was hired privately to take care of an elderly woman with Alzheimer's who lived in Manhattan. Her patient lived in Manhattan and Michelle hated the commute from Uniondale. In 1998, Michelle moved to the Upper West Side and has lived there ever since.
In 2000, Michelle met and married her husband. He was a white Jewish man who worked in the diamond district. They had been married for 20 years. He passed away in 2020. Although they had no children, she said they had an imaginary child. She laughed and said, it was much easier that way.
Michell's brother continues to live and work in Great Neck, and her sister, who suffers from Alzheimer's, still lives in Uniondale. However, she does not get to see either one very often. She lives alone and spends many days alone in her apartment. She does not get out often. She will watch TV, read and cook for herself, getting out only once or twice a week. However, she has plans to go back to work. She said after she gets her teeth fixed and her hair done, she plans on contacting the Visiting Nurses Association to resume working.
I asked her what she likes about living in Manhattan and she said the people are friendly and she is financially comfortable with Social Security and her pension. What she dislikes is the high rent.
Michelle's life right now is one of isolation and loneliness. Hopefully, that will change when she gets back to work. Then, she will be getting out more often, enjoying her work and her life on the Upper West Side.