Life at Sloane House YMCA


My Sloane House Family-Members of Hospitality Center

There were many young students working at the Hospitality Center when I arrived at Sloane House. Most of them were college kids from Europe. They wanted to spend the summer in New York City and working at Sloane House was the best way to do it. After the summer, they all went home. So it was just Gina, Sonya, Liz and I. Gina came from Mexico, Sonya and Liz were French. We became close friends. There was no choice for us. We were family to each other in this new land. Sloane House itself was a new world to all of us. Gina lived just next door to me. With naturally curly hair and a pair of eyes as big as the moon rimmed with a dark eye liner, she was a passionate, hot-blooded Latin girl. She was very sisterly and always watching over me, making sure I would not get myself in trouble and I trusted her with everything. From the very beginning, she was amazed about how I handled my job. She would hold my cheek and say: “Pedro, I was at the Y in Iowa and I met guys from China there. How come you are so different from them? They were very shy and quiet. Look at you. You hang out with us and have a good sense of humor. You have our Latin blood in you.” She said so proudly and lovingly, as if I was her little brother who suddenly grew up. I said to her “I’ll do whatever I can to liberate my countryman from the dull image you have upon them and I am a fast learner.” She liked me the moment she came to Sloane House. I was kind to her and she felt at ease while working with me. We had a lot of fun working together. We had a lot in common too: unlike Sonya and Liz, Gina and I were both from a 3rd world country and came to America to look for a better life.

Like everyone at Sloane House, I liked Sonya the first time I saw her. She was warm and kind. She was 5’2”, blond hair with a sophisticated, flirtatious smile and a very heavy French accent. She was the darling of Sloane House. Liz came to Sloane House in the spring of 1989. Like Sonya, she had the French charm and she was a beauty. She had a long dark-blondish hair with deep, hazel colored striking eyes. Her father was French and her mother was from Iran. She inherited both cultures, a passionate French woman with a deep sense of cultural knowledge.

One night Sonya and Liz, I call them my French girls, invited me to the Island Club. It was located at down town area, close to Cannel Street. When I got in, it was filled with marijuana smoke. It was a reggae club, naturally everyone, except me were smoking marijuana. The French girls surprised me with their fond of marijuana. At that time, reggae was not my thing, so I left early. I became a fan of reggae music soon after.

Both French girls were happy souls and they enjoyed every moment living at Sloane House. They loved New York City and would go out every night. They also taught me their rich French culture etiquette whenever we went out for a drink or just hung out, from how to pour wines, to use hand gestures to make a point (extend the middle finger was one of them), or to poke fun at myself, or be sarcastic. I learned quickly, but I would jokingly say to the French girls, “You are wasting your time. You are dealing with a guy who worries about what to eat for his next meal.” The French girls made a long, exhausting working day easier.


At 10:10 PM, Blogger Artsology said...

Hi Peter,
I read the whole blog tonight - very good writing, a very interesting story - you have a very engaging story going on here!
We were glad to see all of you tonight and hope it's not so long until we see you all again!


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