I didn’t need to wait for some help from somewhere. Everybody said, if you can’t afford to be there, than go home. Even hungarian people working for Caritas in Vienna said the same to me. The months were flying by too quickly, it was soon again payday for the rent. I would have taken every job, no matter which one, if I just could have get one! But I was just running after jobs. If they heard my foreign accent, all the vacancies were already taken. I had huge escapements to speak German. Although I had passed an officially recognised language test on highest level before I left Hungary, that used nothing there, I hardly opened my mouth for half a year. The German language was and remained strange to me, I never liked the sound of it. It was like being in a dream when I suddenly found myself staying in front of the America-House. I had not known the address of it, and wouldn’t find it again, not even today. I went in, there was a phonebook from New York, I searched for the address from an american multimillionaire with Hungarian roots and found it. He got popular in Hungary through his several foundations. I wrote to him a long, long letter and described him my hopeless situation. It was more a letter to myself. I did know, if I could not get a fellowship from somewhere, I would have to follow the advice of my grandmother and of the sound mind to get back home, as there was no other choice. I was stubborn, it was about me, about my future. I ignored the catch-22 I was falling in, I didn't accept a "no" or "no chance". I wanted to show everybody, to prove especially to my mother, but also to myself that even if I am a dreamer, if I really want something, I am able making my dreams come true. My proud would never have permitted the confession, not even to myself, that I nearly had failed already. I would had lost my whole self-respect.
ETTA JAMES • RESPECT YOURSELF