I was 18 when I left home like a thief in the night. Exhausted from a mentally draining home life, I ran away from my family without a word; without a phone call; and without a clue as to a plan for my future. I took off prior to learning that I had been accepted into Clark Atlanta University. Looking back, it doesn’t matter, I could not have accepted that destiny that my mother controlled. This time in my life was a turning point; another ordinary day in a not so ordinary life.
Logistics needed to be worked out. Every detail had to be planned. It was a lot to focus on and a massive amount to figure out in very little time. The taxi ride; catching my flight; support systems; and finding a roof.
I had absolutely nothing to my name except what I could fit in a taxi, $200 and a plane ticket I conned my dad into getting for me non-stop to D.C.
Even though I was 18 when I left, it didn’t stop the search parties my mother formed. It was because I was 18 and left a “runaway” note, that I was not a missing person according the Atlanta Police Department.
That plane ticket I secured from dad was an employee dependent pass, and to my surprise, it had a 48 hour wait period so I had to live in one of the world’s busiest airports for at least 24 of those 48 hours. I didn’t have a home. I had run out places to hide. That airport was my place of refuge where I disappeared into the crowd avoiding my mother’s wrath.
*Disclaimer* Kids, don’t try this at home. Running away is actually a little harder then it looks.
The Airplane Ride
I Finally made my flight and wow I was on vacation for the next 2 weeks with my best friend at the time. We both chilled at her aunt’s house. It twas a FAB two weeks, then it was time to head back and face what? NOTHING.
Survival Support Systems
I was officially estranged from my mother. She wasn’t very happy with me upon my arrival back into Atlanta. I could tell by her frigid words on the other end of the phone that I’ll never forget, “YOU LEFT LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT”. What could I say but noting except, “you’re not ready, goodbye”. It was nearly 2 years before we spoke again.
I was damn lucky. My boyfriend’s mother worked for a very prominent real estate investment company and she was able to negotiate a deal with the owners to let me stay in a room in a building at the corner of Spring and 14th streets for $100 per month. The arrangement was contingent upon cleaning the building in which I lived and the one next door. Can you imagine cleaning buildings with common bathrooms used by all men? My boyfriend stayed there a while but before long we broke up (I was impossible to live with at that time in my life). I cooked the best I could on electric burners and had a car that if it cranked, it was a great day.
Today, there is a parking lot in that spot I once lived as a runaway and on the other corners are skyscrapers. It was bitter sweet going back to that place in midtown Atlanta.
I appreciate those that were there for me; that put me up when they didn’t have to; and made sure I had the basic necessities. It truly takes a village.
That year and half after I left home seemed like an eternity. Every little thing I did was a means to survival. When I write it down, it’s an exhausting list but these tactics were very necessary to keep me one step away from homeless.
- I left home like a thief in the night
- Spent 2 weeks in D.C.
- Lived in a makeshift dorm where I was the cleanup woman
- Went to work for Mead Packing, Macy’s then on to First Atlanta Bank all within 6 months
- Moved to an apartment complex
- Lost my job
- Became a band groupie
- Lost my apartment
- Moved in with dad and that mean stepmother and her kids
- Moved in with my new boyfriend, who would later become my husband
- Landed a job at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution
- Married Reginald Stanfield, June 18, 1983
During this time, I became dreadfully addicted to nose sprays (that’s another post). I thank my lucky stars I never turned to prostitution, hard drugs or a endless life of crime.
Those were my humble beginnings as an adult to which Atlanta was very good to me. I’m so grateful.
I’ve read that luck comes to those that seek their destiny and not just some freak thing that happens.
Do you have a happy ending?