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Inside the _____ NYC Stories Relationships

Inside the Marriage of Jose Rivera

Jose inside self storage wife photo

This is one of a series of stories we are sharing to show what's inside CubeSmart. You not only get a peek inside our customer's storage unit, but also a peek inside what is important to him. Thank you to Jose Rivera, customer of our CubeSmart store in the Bronx, for sharing his story with us.

Jose Rivera carries two photos of his wife of 32 years in his wallet. One is of Maria when she is younger. The other is of Maria when she is older. In both pictures, he said, she is beautiful.

His impression now is no different from his first impression.

Jose, who is 75, was 47 when he met Maria, his second wife, on a visit from his home in the Bronx to Puerto Rico to see his sister. "I told my sister, ‘I'm looking for a girlfriend.' And she said, ‘Don't worry, I got one for you.'"

Jose's sister and her husband went out to eat with Jose and Maria. It was love at first sight for Jose.

"When I saw her she was beautiful," he said. "Wow. She had long hair."

Now she is in poor health.

So after 10 years of living in an apartment at Glebe Avenue in the Bronx, Jose and Maria decided it was time to move to another apartment on Evergreen Avenue.

"Our place was too cold and too dirty," said Jose on a recent visit to CubeSmart's store on Zerega Avenue where they are storing some of their belongings as they move.

Maria, a retired school paraprofessional, has three children from a previous marriage. Jose has a child also from a previous marriage. In that marriage, Jose said he put himself through some difficult times. "My first wife threw me out three times. I had too many girlfriends," he said.

Jose moved from San Germán, Puerto Rico, to the Bronx with 21 of his family members in 1955. Everyone of them boarded the plane together. Jose has 12 siblings from one of his father's marriages and nine siblings from another one of his father's marriages. All of his family returned to Puerto Rico after his mother died more than 10 years ago.

On this day, Jose was joined by his brother-in-law, who was helping him move. "He's better than a brother," Jose said. "He's the only one who helps me." They were headed to nearby George's Diner and Café. Jose planned to order a pastrami sandwich. His brother-in-law said he prefers to see the menu before deciding.

Jose still mourns the death of his son, Giovani Orsini, from an illness about 10 years ago. Jose is retired from working as a bus driver for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for 20 years. He takes walks nearly everyday. But he finds it hard to stay positive.

"I have good days and I have bad days," he said. "Sometimes I don't want to even live anymore."

About the author

Adam Bowles

Adam Bowles is the owner of Not With Ink, a digital media company in Jewett City, Conn. He spent 15 years as a reporter and editor for The Bulletin in Norwich, Conn., and has freelanced for such publications as The New York Times. His latest project is called The World in One Square Mile, a series of on-the-spot interviews for short profiles that demonstrate the need to take interest in others, listen to their stories and discover what unites us all. He and his wife, Luisa, have two daughters.

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