Leaving on a Jet Plane

Tourist Standing in Times SquareThe ink had not dried on the Ford modeling contract when my phone rang … it was Ford!

I was in North Carolina, and that was not going to fly. I was told to pack a suitcase, book my flight … a models’ apartment was waiting along with a hotel Ford negotiated with to give out-of-town models a discount.

Ken took me to the airport. I cried and cried and cried. I was living in a dream.


Being a Ford model had been a burning desire for so long and now … I was a model. Signed with the illustrious Ford Modeling Agency (now Ford Models).

That was that!

And now I was ready to go to New York, my Bible in tow, God in my heart …

And reoccurring memories of my life as a Bipolar billowing through my mind like the clouds my non-stop flight from Charlotte to New York shot through.

(My word! How did this happen???)

My Father … that’s how it happened!

I was finally a Ford Model!

As my plane touched down at LaGuardia, my thoughts took off. Flying faster than that plane had.

I was alone … for the first time … in the most exciting city in the U.S.

I went over everything Ken told me: Be careful, call me, be aware of your surroundings, and—most of all—“I am so proud of you, Lee Ann!”

I checked into the hotel, called Ford (all models were required to check in several times a day), began to unpack …That’s when the phone rang.

It was Ford! “Got a ‘go-see’ first thing in the morning,” they told me.

fishoutofwaterNow, let me explain something. I’m a Southerner … and it takes me a second to say what I gotta say. Meanwhile, my bookers talk like the building’s on fire! I wanted to pinch myself to see if it was real (I knew I belonged, but a true Southerner in New York is kinda like a fish out of water), but I was afraid I might wake up.

So I left my arm alone.

Plus, deep down, I knew it was real. I had earned it! I had trusted God and He had not let me down.

Appointments came rolling in quickly after that, along with a visit to the World Trade Center. It had truly begun, I had fallen asleep and into the dream of a lifetime … Or had everything before been a dream? It didn’t matter … it was time to get my pager at Pagenet!

Not long after I’d arrived, I got a call from Sharon at Ford. This brilliant woman handled all testings, edited film, selected wardrobe … photographers … created comp cards for the models … you name it. “LeeAnn,” she said, “you don’t have a Ford comp card. Be at the office as soon as you get through tomorrow.”

I hung up the phone and sat still for a while, trying to take it all in.The_best_way_to_make_dreams_come_true_is_to_wake_up

Trying to absorb the moment, to preserve it forever.

But then, in true Bipolar fashion, my joy turned to fear in a moment: How was I going to get to all these places in a city like this?


I was told to call the agency at 5 so my chart could be checked one more time.

Never in my life have I ever been so glad to see 5 o’clock arrive … I had to get my ducks in a row … call my baby … eat a salad … have a good long prayer … and just sit … listen to all the taxis driving by. All the sounds you hear only in New York. And remind myself over and over: this is real. This is really happening.

This is really my life.

Didn’t take long before I caught on … flying around NYC with my Ford book in hand … buzzing in at the office.

We had done it.

Me and God.

We had made my dreams come true.


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