leave home

us--last picture together

A few days after I left for my freshman year of college, my mother wrote me this story.

When I left home for the first time, I was 20, and it was 1964. The first Beatles record had come out that summer, and I took the Silver Meteor with my sister Susan up to D.C. She was a candidate for the FBI, and I went on after a few days up to Massachusetts. I left at misty dawn from Union Station, having to call myself a cab, and being cool about ordering cabs by that time. But I had such a heavy suitcase I couldn’t hand;e it, and porters were being phased out, contrary to my mother’s memories of Southern Hospitality on the Silver Meteor.

My original idea had been “early Hippie” in that I wanted to take off with my guitar and blue jeans. I was, however, a wimp, and my mother’s idea was suit, heels and stockings, with suitable dress for teas in Massachusetts. Mother won. My alternative, admittedly, was to run away on my own, and since I wouldn’t know how to go about that now, I certainly didn’t then. Anyway, from dawn to dark I rode that train. Past the sea, and the marshes of the New England coast. Actually, they came after New York City, which I went through, pulling into the underground station, echoing and dark and totally foreign, and then over the CIty on the elevated. I crossed the City over tenements, and the City lay under a yellow cloud, always in the distance.

I was scared and starving, and I didn’t know how to order sandwiches. They had vendors on the cars, passing up and down, calling their wares. You wouldn’t think getting a chicken salad sandwich would terrorize a twenty-year old girl.

It was raining in Boston, and dark, when I arrived. The conductor, or someone in a blue uniform, helped with my suitcase, with much to say. Think of a street character on Cagney and Lacy. Edie was right there, and I fell into (or onto, considering our relative heights) her arm and broke into loud tears. Edie was cool. She took me to a nice restaurant and fed me the amount of solid food a young person can comfortably put away, and then we went home.

Home was on the curve of a calm, reflecting river, willows on the bank, the turning autumn trees drifting into the wood smoke that hazes New England.

Anyway, as least I’ve made some positive motions towards getting somewhere. I decided that if you could make such heady decisions at 17, I had no reason to be a wimp at 42.

When was the first time you left home?

6 thoughts on “leave home

  1. When I was 17, my mother and I got into some kind of argument. My mom decided to ground me from driving. I said there was no way I was riding the bus to school–after all, it was my own car and my own gas that I’d paid for myself. She said if I drove to school I might as well not come back home,

    So I didn’t. I packed a bag and moved in with my boyfriend’s parents, and that was that. My mom and I didn’t speak for many months, and when we finally did, we didn’t speak of that. Never did.

    1. It is unimaginable to me telling my child not to come back home. Sounds like you had a rough time at home, and while not ideal, maybe living with your boyfriend’s parents was a good thing.

      There are so many things my father and I never speak of, and many things I didn’t get a chance to speak of with my mother. Writing is a good outlet for all that!

    1. Well, it is your business and you don’t have to tell me, but I’m sure you have an interesting story to tell about the time you left the confines of where you were raised. Glad you have a good home now.

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