After the scare from the night before, we decided it would be best to get out of state as soon as possible. We hitched a ride to the bus station. We were on the night bus to South Bend, Indiana. I had just enough babysitting money to buy two tickets, two tickets out of Toledo, out of my father’s house, out from under a stepmother whose love was hard to come by, and whose judgment sent me running with a man three years older than me, three weeks after I met him.
I’d never been in a bus station before. There were lots of black people in line for tickets, waiting in seats, milling about. I was a sheltered little white girl, who had never crossed the tracks that divided color in 1972. I began to feel the reality of what we had started when they asked for our luggage. Just the day before, I had walked away with the clothes on my back, my straw fishing basket purse, and my white bible with my name embossed in gold letters across the front.
We sat in the back of the bus. It was a long walk down that aisle, past all those people of color, all those eyes looking, feeling every inch of what I’d done. This was my first exposure to the world outside my father’s house, outside of his way of thinking.
We met at a bowling alley playing pool. He asked for my number and called me the very next day. I was a tall, skinny big-eyed girl. On a summer day in early June, just a few days after meeting, he came over to my house to see me. We sat on the front porch talking, me complaining about how my stepmother treated me, while he handed out dreams. Once we decided, we just got up and walked away, down that familiar street where I grew up, through all the neighborhoods, into our future.