Dec 2, 2019
You really want to know? No talking about my story to anybody. Okay? Okay. So what happened was, ay ay ay ay ay.
When I was 13 years old, I had a friend Arlene, who is still my friend to this day. We were way beyond our years in many ways, and we were both … I’m not going to get into it. Both very unhappy at home. Okay. For various reasons. We decided to run away, but we weren’t going around the corner. I forged my mother’s … I had a little bank account with my mother’s signature and mine on it. I forged my mother’s signature, I got money out of the bank. Arlene and I … And we were small. I’m what? 4’11” now? She’s smaller than me. We’re little, little. We went to Grand Central Station. We were savvy. We went to Grand Central Station. I remember I was trying to put something on … I didn’t want them to see my face. I remember at Grand Central Station we went to the ticket booth. For some reason I thought maybe they could see me on a camera. I didn’t want … I don’t know how I disguised myself. A handkerchief over my … Who knows?
Anyway, we ended up in New Jersey and we were really lucky. Okay. We ended up in Jersey and I guess we got off the train, I guess we thought we’d hitch. This is 19 … Let’s see, 57, 67, like 1969/1970. It was hippie, hippie, hippie. But a lot, a lot, a lot of unrest, civil unrest. So long story short, these guys pick us up. They live at Fort Dicks. They took us to Fort Dicks. We stayed in the barracks. They were very nice to us, they were gentlemen. We stayed in the barracks.
We left the next day, we ended up …I guess we went through Pennsylvania. I don’t know how, but we hitched we hitched, we hitched. We ended up in Wilmington, Delaware. Wait, check this out. Wilmington, Delaware where these kids, we were in like a park or something, and these kids came over to us. They seem like nice kids, like a boy and a girl. They were our age. They said, “Oh, our parents take people in. You can come, you can come and stay with us.” We went and they really were. Their parents were rescuer … They took in strays, whatever. Runaways. And I remember sitting at the table and it was like … I never had this in my house. They all sat around the table like normal people eating dinner. There was a pitcher of milk. I was like, “Whoa, this is new thing. People are having dinner together at the table.” But, some strange stuff like the stepdaughter was involved with the stepson. I don’t know.
Anyway, the next day we go to a store and Arlene and I were scared we weren’t going to have food. Well I was scared I was going to have food because food’s my thing. She was into cigarettes, so I think I stole soap. I stole something and I think she stole, I don’t know. Tampons, cigarettes or whatever the hell we stole. They found us, they couldn’t took us to the back room. Wilmington, Delaware. They took us to the back room, they took our picture, it was a whole thing. In the store. Yeah cause they dragged … I took Arlene’s hand. I said, “Let’s go.” And I dragged … We were running, I think she was off the ground because I was pulling her so hard and so fast. But they found us, they took us back, but they released us. But those kids left so we didn’t have anywhere to go.
Anyway, the last thing, the last few … Other things happened, like we got in an argument on a bridge because I wanted food, she wanted cigarettes, we were going to part … Anyway, we stayed together. We get to somewhere Virginia, I don’t know where it was, I’m not sure where it was, but these white guys picked us up and they say, “Get in, get in, race riot, race riot.” And they zoom through the town and they just say, “Get out, get out. Race riot, race riot.” We just got out. I guess there was something going on. Whatever, It was 1970.
And then these guys picked us up. These guys picked us up and there were three of them and they … This was in … How could I forget the name? Petersburg, Virginia I think it was called. I can’t remember. Something like that. And they took us out to a field. I don’t know what they wanted to do. There were other guys too that picked us up, whatever, whatever. That doesn’t matter. These black guys picked us up and I think we made out with them or something and these white guys picked us up. No, I’m not kidding. And these white guys picked us up and they wanted to go to the field. We don’t want anything to do with them. So we said … I couldn’t believe it. My friend Arlene, she said … We were kids. She said, “We’re lesbians.” She said, “We’re lesbians.” That freaked these guys out. I don’t know what they thought, they were going to get cooties or something. It was down South, I don’t know. It’s like 1970. They were driving us back.
And I remember at the time there was a common expression saying, “What are you, spastic?” People just used to say that word. What are you, spastic? Well, I said to the guy who was driving, “What are you, spastic?” And his friends got silent and then they said, “Yes, he is.” I guess he was in the war and he actually … I couldn’t believe of all things. I still feel bad. Who would know? It was an expression. I was a kid. That’s what everybody said.
Anyway, long story short, we get back … I don’t remember all the other things, but we get back to the when … We slept in a church. Yes, we slept in a church one night and they asked us, “You smell smokey. Do you smoke cigarettes?” And we said, “No, no, no.” We did. But, “No, no, no.” And they let us sleep in the church. I remember the floor was … I don’t know if it was wet. It was not comfortable.
But anyway, we get on the road, cops pick us up, they take us to jail. What are they going to do? They took us to jail, they put us in a cell with this woman who was drunk, and she peed on the floor and she said, “I want a cigarette. I want a cigarette.” Anyway, it was kind of crazy, but we were kind of safe in our own way.
And long story short, I remember they brought us … I don’t eat meat anymore, but I remember they brought us bologna sandwiches or something, and milk. I don’t remember. Anyway, I just remember my mother and father showed up. My mother and father showed up. They had to go all the way. It must have been seven hours to find us. They found us, they call up … Because the cops called New York. My father and my mother came and Arlene’s mother came. Arlene’s mother was not happy. My father was not happy, but by the grace of the gods, my mother just embraced me. She was just very grateful to see me. But believe me, if it was just my father, I would have been tied up and whipped. but anyway, anyway … No, he would have been out of his mind. He was out of his mind anyway. Anyway, so we go home, we get home, she goes, “How am I going …” And my father’s out of his mind. Look, look, loco, loco, loco. And he says, “Put her on the chair, tie her up, we’re sending her upstate. That’s what he says. “Tie her up, we’re sending her upstate.”
Luckily my mother, who was normal sometimes, she said … Thank God…she’s like, “No, I don’t think that …” But he was serious. He’s like, “Tie her up.” They put me on this chair. I remember the chair. “Tie her up, we’re bringing her upstate.” To live in a juvenile delinquent facility. But my mother said, “No.” And luckily we got through it. Whatever way we got through it. But it was a trip. It was a trip.
And Arlene, my friend Arlene, who’s brilliant, she wrote the first textbook on transgendered families. She’s a social worker and a teacher and a mother. And in my lifetime, I became a social worker and I also work with animals and I worked in the parks and … So we both did nonprofit our whole lives. So even though we were radical and runaways, we devoted our lives to people, animals, everything.
And I spoke to her recently because, may her son be in peace. Her son passed away at 21, and I spoke to her before his birthday and of course I know her since I’m 13 so it was good. I wanted to pray, I prayed. I wanted to be there for her, and what can I say? So she was planning on retiring because she had a very … Workaholic…Very full life where …this, that. She has a social work practice. Anyway she said she was planning on retiring the second she knew Shia was dead. She said everything changed and she knew who for the rest of her life, she wasn’t going to retire, she wasn’t going to read books. She said she wasn’t going to have sex and do anything later on in life. She said she was going to commit herself to working with heartbroken people because that was the only thing she could do because she was heartbroken. It was the love of her life. And I’m here. I’m here. So I try to help people the way I can, anyway I can.
She doesn’t smoke anymore… We stopped smoking in our teen years. All of us, we gave everything up. But whatever we did …just a rebellious moment because we had bad households, so we split. We were planning on going to Florida. We didn’t make it.