Outtake: Jane and the York YWCA


(“Outtakes” are snippets that, for various reasons, never made it into the published memoir. This essay did not make the cut because the author decided to end her story [the 1969 thread] just before she settled in York, and poor Jane* just didn’t fit.)

Thursday, May 8, 1969

(York, Pennsylvania)

After spending a chilly night in Jeff’s old Valiant, I check into the YWCA.

My roommate is kind of cool, though she guzzles a lot of beer. She looks a bit like Mom ꟷ hell, she reminds me of Mom, right down to the red hair, globs of eye makeup, glazed half-closed eyes, languid hands clenching a large brown bottle and lit cigarette, lipstick stains on the filter.

“Hey,” she says, as I step into my new (temporary) digs, a large sunny room with five beds. “I’m supposed to have this room to myself.”

I shrug. “This is where the front desk told me to go.” I show her my key.

She sizes me up. “Well, then, pick a bed,” she says, apparently deciding I must be okay. “But not too close. I can’t stand snoring. I’m Jane, by the way.” She doesn’t offer her hand.

Still in her robe, though it was well after noon, Jane sits lotus style on her bed, pen and cigarette in the same hand, a letter in front of her on the spread. “I’m writing to my daughter. She’s 13.”

Jeff follows behind me with my trunk. I point to the bed furthest from Jane, and he flips the trunk on top of it. He kisses me on the cheek. “Well, I gotta go,” he says, looking slightly uncomfortable. “You get settled. I’ll pick you up later.”

“Okay,” I say, gripping his arm.

He edges away.

I release him ꟷ he escapes through the door.

As I unpack a few things ꟷ enough for a couple of days ꟷ Jane, with the straightest face I’ve ever seen on a drunk person, says, “Okay, house rules of the Y-W-C-A.” She raises her beer bottle into the air. “No drinking and no smoking. Got that?”

I’m not quite sure what to say.

She bursts into laughter, a chain smoker’s hacking cackle. She reaches into a cooler beside her bed and pulls out another beer. “Here,” she says, pushing the bottle toward me. “I won’t tell, if you don’t.”

I take it and pick up the bottle opener on her stand and uncap it. “Deal.” I take a swig.

“You got man trouble, I see.”


“He sure flew out of here.”

“He’ll be back.”

Jane nods.

My relationship with Jeff will work out ꟷ it just has to.

I won’t go back to Sioux City, no matter what.


Memoir Madness Excerpts: Return to Table of Contents


“Outtake: Jane and the YWCA,” © copyright 2013 - present, by Jennifer Semple Siegel, may not be reprinted or reposted without the express permission of the author. Published in Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment


*Names and identifying characteristics of some people have been changed to protect their privacy.



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