Category: Story #9

But I digress…



Elementary and Intermediate RAD Certificates from 1967 and 1968, minus the Advanced Certificate from 1969

Later that week I called my father on the payphone installed in the hallway at Mrs Johnston’s where I lived.  I was calling to ask for money.  I had just passed the advanced Royal Academy of Dance exam and needed money to pay for the certificate.  I didn’t even have enough money to buy the point shoes I needed for school, and my teachers were not sympathetic.  Neither my school tuition for the semester nor my room and board had been paid. Something was amiss at home…

My father barked at me straight away, before I had a chance to make my request.  “Who’s this Amory?!!!”  “What?”, I asked, confused that he would know of him.  “I read your letter to Landa, and I want to know what the hell is going on there.  I didn’t send you over there to get involved with drug addicts!!” he yelled at me.  I stared down at the lush Oriental carpet as I listened to him.  Oh man, I was in trouble now…

I had met Amory in the passport office while I was reading Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead”.  He noticed the book and we got to talking.  He was an American singer/songwriter from San Francisco who was in London to avoid the draft.  My sister Landa had been in London with me the year before I met Lemmy so she knew Amory.  Amory had just told me that he had had a gig at “Middle Earth” and when he got up on stage to begin the set he couldn’t remember how to play his guitar because he had dropped some LSD.  This is what my father read in the letter.  I assured him that Amory was just a friend, an American, by the way,  and that I wasn’t, if fact, taking LSD or using any other kind of drugs.

I was diligently working hard at school even though I wasn’t really happy there at this point.  The severe strictness of the school, was beginning to wear on me.  I had been called into the office because a teacher had seen me eating an orange on the train. “What is wrong with that?” I asked.  “Oranges have a strong scent.” was the answer.  Apparently it was not the decorum fitting of a Royal Ballet student!

I was now noticing a desperate competitiveness in some of my classmates which I found distasteful.  I remember a girl looking at me with utter contempt, almost hatred, because  I did not express enough excitement or appreciation at being selected for rehearsals of the school production of “Giselle”.

I had been the youngest student in the school in my first year, and because of my youth they had allowed me to stay on a third year, which was unusual.  My teachers felt that after this year I should continue my training in Stuttgart as I had the style and height that would be better suited to the German ballet company.  But my life took an unexpected turn at this point.

“Well,  things aren’t going well here anyway and I’m thinking you should come home early.” he said tersely.  I was meant to be at the Royal Ballet School till June.  I didn’t want to leave London.  I felt at home there. Still, I really had no choice.  I wouldn’t be able to stay if my father would not be supportive.  The decision was made, and I was to leave London later that week.

I would be going from “Swinging London” to Longmeadow,  a provincial suburb of Springfield, MA.  I walked over to Lemmys’ to tell him the news.  Roger, one of his roommates greeted me at the door and said that Lemmy had gone to Wales. He wasn’t expected back till after I’d be leaving.  My heart sunk as I realized I wouldn’t see him again.  I don’t remember my thoughts about leaving him in London, but I had a tendency to just accept the circumstances of my life, and I think I had already accepted that Lemmy and I would walk different paths.  My feelings for him existed independently, with a life of their own.  Intuitively, I knew that this was a spiritual connection rather than a physical one,  and that my emotional lot in life was not to be a lonely path, but a path alone.

My parents picked my up at Logan Airport in Boston.  They later described their shock at seeing me.  I had left Massachusetts looking like Audrey Hepburn in a sweet little coat and pillbox hat. With my American Tourister luggage matching my red turtleneck sweater dress, I was the perfect young girl any parent would be proud of.  Now, at 17, I was physically more mature than the 14 year old they’d sent to London.  I wore a long  flowing silk dress, handmade in Maritius, over “voluminous black trousers”, as my father described them in letter to the Royal Ballet School, and the civil defense “maxi” coat I’d bought on Portabello Road.  In one hand was the guitar Lemmy had given me, incongruous with the carry on suitcase I’d left home with, in the other.  On my lapel I wore two buttons, saying “I Was A Virgin”, and “Save Water, Shower With A Friend”,  ambiguous statements meant to confound and shock my parents, I suppose.


There I am…”avoirdupois”!

I came home to find that my parents were divorcing, a fact they forgot to mention to me while I was in London.  The tension was palpable as we drove home from Boston but they said nothing about it.   When we arrived home my father unloaded my luggage onto the lawn, got back in the car and drove off without a goodbye.  That’s when my mother finally told me they were getting a divorce, and he was working and living in New York.

It was not a happy homecoming.  My life suddenly had no direction.  I had no idea what I was supposed to do now.  And so began my life without Lemmy for 20 long years, but never did he leave my thoughts.  And I never did get that certificate…


Original draft of the letter written by my father to the Royal Ballet School.