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MCG, a Chicana feminist, for sure, teaches community college English

Monday, June 18, 2012

Finding My Way Out

         I didnt run away. I left.  
         I left the long dusty drive way, the creaky front door, Mom and her lines on the kitchen table, my flunking-out-of-school brother, my blonde, eight year old sister, and April -- the baby who came to live with us because her mom was doing more drugs than ours.
         I left and my mom cheated on her boyfriend -- our step-dad, starting doing lines with another guy across town; my brother dropped out of school; my sister developed early, started her period at nine and started hanging out with boys, and April went to live with another family. April would go on to live with yet another family, my brother Amonie would wake up hungover everyday, and my sister would get pregnant at twelve.

          Two weeks after graduation and I was gone. I was only seventeen.  Sammmie and I packed up our clothes, my drum set, and my green trunk filled with stuff for the kitchen wed share in our new apartment on Delmar Street, the attic apartment with the slanted ceilings, the one just off Haight -- walking distance to Escape From New York pizza for lunch and/or dinner, the music store where we bought strings and drum sticks for band practice, and twenty-one year olds whod buy us beer.
         I remember standing in the tiny kitchen of the apartment on Delmar street, only big enough for one person at a time, marveling at its brilliance. The sink didnt leak, the cabinets all had doors, the counter wasnt perpetually damp and crumbling away, and the four by four space of linoleum on the floor was intact, not faded and worn, or pulling away at the corners.  My mom wasnt there awake and wiping at her nose for days on end, flipping out and screaming then sleeping for two or three days straight. We kept the kitchen clean, so as not to be reminded of home.
         I dreaded calling, but I missed the kids, worried about them. I missed my mom too, but I had been missing her long before I moved to the city. With no phone in the apartment, Id walk down to the corner of Masonic and Haight to the phone booth near the bus stop outside of Rasputin's. Id have to quickly put my handful of coins in the coin box when someone answered the line, ka-chink, ka-chink, ka-chink, ka-chink. While waiting for the line to connect, I'd watch for people I had gotten to know, the cute blond guy Billy, Matteo the compact, muscular stage hand from the Farm, Lauren, the guy with a girls name, and the two girls we hated whose names I cant remember.
         Tired of eating just-add-water falafel and not being able to afford more than one slice of pizza a day, I called home, sobbing into the phone as soon as I heard my moms voice. I had wanted to come home to visit, but Sammie didnt want to drive all the way there, and I didnt have the money to pay her for the gas. I told mom all about it between tears and wiping my nose on my arm. I told her about the falafel and the fog even in the summertime -- maybe it was just the fog that was making me depressed.
         I can send you the gas money, she said.
         Is it hot there? I asked looking toward Rasputins.
         Yeah, too fucking hot, she answered.
         I could hear the neighbors rooster crowing in the background from her end of the line.
         You can send me the money? I asked.
         Ill send it Monday, she said.
         A Muni bus was crossing the intersection at Haight coming my way.
         Sammie isnt going to want to drive up there anyway, I said quickly before the bus got to the stop in front of me and opened its doors.
         You could always just come back home, she said. I could send someone down, and you could just come home.
         No Mom, I cant. The bus doors wooshed shut and it pulled away. She didnt believe me.
         Just come home, she said.
         I wished I had a tissue. My nose was running, and fresh tears were streaming down my face.
         No, Mom, you dont understand, I said gulping for air. I cant. I cant go back there. I won't go back.


  1. Wow...can't wait to read more.

  2. Wow, what a great start. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Gripping! I am excited to read on.

  4. Thanks, Unknown, Jinna, and Tonya, for reading and signing up as followers! Please share.

  5. Michelle, I remember you and your family. Our moms were friends. I will be reading every week! Very nice writing style!

  6. Thanks, Tiffany! I'm trying to remember you -- your name is very familiar. Who is your mom?

  7. Michelle,

    I got to this link from Lydia's FB page. Awesome. Love it so far.


    (Diego's mom from piano lessons)

  8. I am hooked on your writing just from reading the first few paragraphs of this. LOVE it! The way in which you tell us things without stating them directly is superb. For example, you show us what the kitchen was like at home by telling us what the kitchen on Delmar St isn't. Great use of detail and clear imagery. Can't wait to read more!

  9. Thanks, Melissa! I'm so excited to have a new reader and a new like on my facebook page.