I graduated with a BFA in December of 1968 and caught the Greyhound bus out of town right after Christmas. At the time, it was the only way I could figure out to leave home. My true love was living with someone else. My parents would not look kindly on me moving to my own place in Detroit, so I hit the road. I first went to San Francisco. Stayed about a week. The person I knew out there had returned to Mississippi. Decided to head to Washington D.C. where my sister was a student at Howard. I hadn’t enjoyed the 5 day bus ride out so I caught the train east. I stayed in my sister’s dorm room for a week or two, until one of her play writing teachers hooked me up with a friend of his in New York City, a woman from Belgium who taught French at Columbia University.
I caught the train to NYC and took a cab from Grand Central Station to her apartment on Riverside Drive. I remember looking out of the apartment window one evening, listening to Joni Mitchell singing “I’ve looked at Clouds” coming from another apartment. I stayed with her a week or two, got a job doing clerical work. Met some of her friends. Tried hash. Whoa. Moved to the YWCA when her mother came for a visit. Went through the blizzard of 1969. Got a letter from Jim and decided to go back to Detroit. I took a plane.
Some first thoughts on arriving back were that Detroit was the dirtiest place I’d been. Gray and dirty. I moved back in my mother’s and got a job at the newly opened Church sewing factory. It was just the sort of job I wanted. I didn’t have to give it any thought so I could devote my mind to planning and plotting other things. There were only about 4 of us working there, sewing African print “mod” clothes. I felt a connection to my seamstress ancestors while working there.
Several weeks later, I moved out, much to the consternation of my parents, especially my mother, who would have rather I discussed it with her first instead of the late night call I made telling her I wouldn’t be coming home. After staying in the Black Conscience Library for a few days (there was a living quarters), I found an apartment and discovered it wasn’t that hard to move out and be on my own. I felt a great weight off of my mind, being on my own. I worked there sewing for almost a year before leaving to become a revolutionary librarian and have my first daughter. I was 22.