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.
Now, 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.”
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.