Rita Moreno has been a force in the entertainment industry for a whopping seven decades, and while she's not stopping any time soon, with her 92nd birthday approaching, the legendary Puerto Rican actress has been coming to terms with some difficult realities of aging.
It's a bittersweet time for the EGOT winner – who was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico in 1931 – having recently left behind her Berkeley Hills home she shared with her late husband Leonard Gordon in favor of a new apartment, and as she prepares to celebrate her birthday on December 11.
The change brought about unexpected emotions for the star, who opened up candidly about grappling with loneliness and the bold move she made to overcome it.
Speaking with People ahead of the release of her new Netflix comedy, Family Switch starring Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms, Rita recalled how unusually "sad" her recent move initially made her feel, and confessed: "It was affecting my appetite."
She noted her daughter Fernanda Luisa Gordon could tell something was wrong, and further said: "I didn't know what was wrong," adding: "I really didn't understand what was happening."
Rita continued: "I remember thinking, 'I can't go on like this.' I'm in the most beautiful apartment in the world as far as I'm concerned, and this is happening. Why is this happening?"
After taking "all my experience in therapy, psychotherapy," the West Side Story actress came to the realization that not living as close to her family – she also has two grandsons – was affecting her in a way she had yet to experience before.
She explained: "When we make plans to see each other, we have to make plans, they can't just kind of drop by," and noted: "I've never had to seek people's company… You know why? Because people have always come to me."
"I was really lonely," she confessed, though mused: "It's the most fascinating thing to learn about yourself."
Rita subsequently challenged herself to make new friends in her neighborhood, and revealed: "That particular day when I made that decision, I went to the supermarket to do some shopping, and I ran into a lady who I kept running into, who's lovely."
Despite the woman's initial surprise that the Rita Moreno was asking her out for lunch, the two have become friends. Recalling their first outing together, Rita said: "She sat down and she said, 'Do you always pick people up like this in the market?'"
"I told her the truth," she went on, and remembered telling her: "No, but you always have struck me as such a lovely person. Since I'm new here and I don't know anybody, I thought I'd take a dip."
The successful befriending of her supermarket friend propelled her to add more new people to her network, and she said: "I also met people from the apartment, the building, who are marvelous," ultimately declaring: "I'm so lucky."
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