Sunday, November 27, 2016

A poem by Gary G Pelow, Denise

I was at Old Westbury in 1990, I was there to study Spanish education,  I wanted to be a teacher.
This was my third year of college, I attended two years at Fulton Montgomery College in Johnstown, New York, then I moved to the Old Westbury campus in 1990, to begin finishing my Bachelors degree.
I remember  Johnstown with affection, it was a small college tucked into the hills and rural area of the foothills just before the Adarondac mountains.
Fulton Montgomery was a quiet place of green hills and fields of grass and flowers.
I remember jogging around the campus, I nearly destroyed my knees, I gave up running.
I did however have mental problems, I was nervous and scared most of the time of my being there at Fulton Montgomery.
I loved the nature around me that was gorgeous, it helped ease my fears, but not completely.
I would often get depressed and suicidal, it was a strange world to live in, to be surrounded by the beauty of nature and still be miserable while in the middle  of nature.
And so I finished my stint at Fulton Montgomery and chose to move to Long Island to the Old Westbury campus to begin my third year of study, .
This was a unique and beautiful campus, 600 acres of woods and nature surrounding the campus, I remember the early mornings as I went to morning classes the birds in the trees and the smell of nature.
Yet I was alone, alone in the romantic sense, I yearned to fall in love, to be with my soul mate, the love of my life who I believed was out there somewhere waiting for me.
I tried to get the attention and interest from some of the girls who were students there, I had no luck, I was still alone.
Out of desperation I placed an ad in the Village Voice, a New York City paper not to far from Long Island.
The first responses I got were dead ends, I had contacted no one of interest, I began to despair of my loneliness.
However, I got a letter from Harlem in the city, it was a hand written letter describing herself and what she was looking for.
We exchanged several letters, her name was Arlene Denise Crockwell.
We talked on the phone a lot and in one of those conversations I got angry and hung up on her, I thought that was another dead end.
I had forgotten though that Arlene already had my address, I put it as the return address on my letters to her, and keep in mind we had never met in person yet.
Out of anger and rage Arlene took the subway and the Long Island Rail Road to my campus, she even had the number of my exact room location.
I was watching television in a deep abyss of loneliness when there was loud banging on my dorm room door.
It was Arlene, called Denise by her family, she was a black girl from Harlem, a world and place that was so different then my own world.
My initial anger toward her abated and we talked and I gave her a tour of the campus.
I went to Harlem a couple of times to see her and meet her family, she was adopted.
For some reason her mother packed up all of Arlene's clothes and threw her out of their apartment into the streets.
I could not let her be homeless, so against campus policy I hid her in my dorm room.
I searched for a place for her to live, I called women shelters and homeless shelters in general, there were no takers.
As the weeks passed and I was gaining no head way in finding her somewhere to go, my room mates became more angry that Arlene was there.
There was only one solution, to leave college and return to my home town of Rochester, NY.
There me and Arlene found an apartment together.
I was in love, this was the person that was waiting to meet me by fate, she became the love of my life where no other woman in my future could replace.
We had been through much so much together and then we were blind sided, everything changed, in 1991. Arlene, Denise, was diagnosed as HIV positive. AIDS.
She had amazing strength and fortitude
They, the doctors, told us as Arlene started to show symptoms of AIDS that she would be dead within a year, 1992.
This did not happen, not in a year anyway, Arlene, Denise survived another ten years, ten of the best years of my life, she was the love of my life that no woman could match.
She died on April 13, Friday, on Easter weekend 2001.`

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