The Transition Network

Atlanta Chapter

Strong Women - Laura Greenberg

(Posted August 29, 2020)

While hunkering down during this extraordinary transitional time in all of our lives, I’ve been reminiscing about my own life’s transitions.

For the past half year, no particular, personal transitions: Despite intentions, almost no travel, no learning a foreign language, no embracing exercise, no cleaning closets. But, dammit, I forgive myself.

Recently, though, a profound transition: A very dear childhood friend had a prolonged, hard struggle with cancer, and two weeks after two of her other friends and I made an arduous trip to see her one last time, she died. We are so grateful that we made the trip. Our Transition Network is so valuable when we need to process these moments.

To help us get through these isolating times, my husband, Carl has been teaching me to play chess (!) I think I’m beginning to catch on – I even beat him today (after he allowed me several do-over moves, of course).

Some of my experiences which stay with me, and inform my life to this day:
I grew up a few houses from the beach in Belle Harbor, Queens NY, on a little slip of a peninsula between the Ocean and Jamaica Bay; pretty idyllic, though I don’t know that I fully appreciated it at the time.

After graduating Far Rockaway High School (where I was voted Miss Witty my senior year, and I’m still pretty damn witty). I went to Ohio State University. This vexed my parents: They’d promised me a red Corvette if I stayed home and went to Brooklyn College.

I became fairly active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, marched for African-American studies on campus, and women’s rights. Traded in my argyle socks and matching sweaters for bellbottom jeans and denim work shirts. Looked a lot like everyone else, though I continued to wear a bra and to shave my legs. I guess I was a hippie, and although I was all about free love, I had a rather difficult time finding anyone to have free love with, Hard to believe, I know!

But then the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college I met my Carl at a Jewish summer camp in upstate New York. We went to universities hundreds of miles apart, but after graduation we decided to backpack throughout Europe for half a year (I mainly packed Tampax). We just roamed – no real plans, no reservations. It was fabulous. My parents again were horrified; my father was sure Carl was using me for my body – I’m sure that was true, and still is! My mother told everyone I was travelling with my girlfriend Carla.

We travelled again after we got married, got our social work and law degrees, worked for a year, and saved money. At 29 we took a year off and travelled around the world: Singapore, Malaysia, India, Nepal (saw Mt. Everest), Egypt (camped in the Sinai Desert), Israel (worked and learned a little Hebrew at a kibbutz), and back through Europe – France, England, Scandinavia, staying with
friends we’d made during the trip.

Again back-packing, taking trains, hitch-hiking, and changing plans as the mood hit us. So grateful we did that. We saw and experienced incredible things, and met incredible people. We visited places that are no longer accessible to tourists (Kashmir, for example).

So, what does all this have to do with transitions, I guess it’s all about our life’s journey, not necessarily the destination, but how we open ourselves up to change, continue to find a purpose and passion if we’re lucky, take risks and allow ourselves adventures so we can grow and keep learning. At 69, I still have an activist’s heart, been doing some marching for Black Lives Matter, voting rights
and social justice. I guess I’ve returned to my hippie roots, and this time I don’t shave or wear a bra.

I’m a retired social worker; I’ve always believed my generation could change the world and have held a passion that love will outweigh hate and that most people are basically good. Oh yeah, still married to Carl, bless our hearts, still living in our first house, and have two grown, exceptional kids.

Carl asked if he could include this; something he wrote about our arranged marriage: Summer, 1974: Laura and I, both 23, lived in sin in the Yum Yum apartments, Chapel Hill; she was getting a master’s at UNC, I was odd-jobbing. In Queens, Ruth, her mother, wasn’t happy. To stop her nagging, Laura told her we’d get married when I got a real job. After the IRS hired me, Laura’s cousin called, offering me weirdly profuse congratulations. We finally understood that Ruth, calling our bluff, had arranged for us to be married at Laura’s brother’s house on Long Island over Christmas. ... This December 29 is our 46th anniversary.

Anyway, In My Life: The Beatles pretty much said it all.

Material from, 19:01:57 September 22, 2021.
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