#7 The Air Vent Conversation – Part II

In the first entry #3, I had just moved in with a man, leaving all possessions behind as well as any notion of good judgment. There was no plan and no talk of ever talking about talking. My drifting into this might astonish me today, except that my “stupendously stupid” list is so long.

We worked together at the same successful radio station in New York and lived together in his Manhattan velour accented apartment. We took different cabs in the morning so we didn’t enter the office at the same time. Did we think no one knew? It wasn’t shocking to live with someone, but working together was.

We moved to the east 60’s to a nicer apartment and played house, shopping for new furniture and scouring bargains on the lower east side. Everything was in his name, another matter we never discussed. He bought me a piano to replace the one I had left behind, and gave me my first fur coat, a lovely white curly lamb. I still wasn’t making as much money and it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done.

Our life was comfortable and enviable in some ways. We had well known colleagues. We had well known neighbors. Through NBC we went to movie premiers, frequent Saturday Night Live tapings and even the Grammys. Dinner was always out at neighborhood haunts with friends. We took weekend trips from time to time or traveled to broadcast conferences. Our entire social world was in that business. And we slipped into the Manhattan way of life of Sunday brunch out in the neighborhood, while sharing sections of the Times. Though my heart was still wounded from the previous relationship and we weren’t setting off rockets, I shifted into an acceptance that this would be my life.

It became too awkward working at the same radio station and through mental telepathy it was understood that I would make a career or job change. I had originally left Seattle for New York to get more experience in radio assuming that women would have more opportunities. Not so, unless you got into sales which was the path to management and even ownership, my real dream. And radio back then was a little like the military. You moved out to move up and often worked with the same people at different stations.

Luckily I found a position as half of a firm that represented small radio stations to New York advertising agencies. There was the owner, a rather volatile guy, and there was me. It was grimy work because I did a little of everything, but I learned to sell by just doing it. Being a small fry was an advantage and I met with many of the biggest media buyers and media directors in New York. My prospects had improved

After only about nine months I was approached by a firm within Westinghouse Broadcasting. It was their own company which represented their radio properties. It was also their management training corps, good news for me. But it seemed unwise to leave a job after less than a year. I told my current employer about the offer and his angry response made my decision. I left. Now I had my own office and a support system where I was respected at a well respected company. My income more than tripled immediately.

Radio was and is a precarious business depending on ratings. The man in my life was fired, a pretty common occurrence. Soon he announced that he had taken a job in Milwaukee.

“Where?” I asked.

“Milwaukee,” he repeated as he rattled off the new call letters.

“Did you say Milwaukee?” I asked still hoping he meant New Jersey. This was a year into our living together and we still hadn’t discussed us. I had been in the new job for only two months.

Living together was hardly unusual. Both sets of parents by then had visited from the west coast. No one asked questions or offered approval or disapproval. Every day I know I felt not quite bad, or morally wrong, just not quite right. I think now that it had less to do with what society might think, but whether we belonged together.

There was a split second when I wondered if I could afford to sub-let the apartment from him and stay in Manhattan. But, movers were called, boxes packed and I announced to the president of the new company that after two wonderful months I had to resign. He couldn’t have been nicer praising my work and offering letters of introduction. But I felt horrible. Not only was I letting them down, but I had just earned my wings. I offered to stay as long as they needed so they put me up in a hotel and I continued to work with them for a month.

During that month I flew to Milwaukee for a weekend to start our house search. He picked me up at the airport and we drove around the area. With absolutely no warning I burst into tears. He drove as I sobbed the full length of the interstate.

A few weeks later I moved to Milwaukee.

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