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Monday, May 30, 2011

Hey! You! Get Out of My Way! Part 11 Leaving Home

I return to the runaway shelter and life returns to my “new normal.” My mornings are spent taking the bus to Stuyvesant Plaza, getting picked up and driven to school.

Few people know what I am going through and I try to keep it that way. I have never been a very good student in school and this makes it even harder.

I come home from school one day to find that Donna is waiting for me. Ushering me into the office she explains that Parsons Child and Family Center has a bed for me and I am going to be moving into one of their group homes. The only problem is that the house that has a spot for me is in Saratoga.  “This is good news,” she says “You will have whole new life to look forward to.” I explain that I looked forward to fixing my old life. I’m worried, I don’t know anyone in Saratoga and I will be starting school there in the middle of my junior year. “Mrs. Vanderbilt -Whitney lives in Saratoga,” Donna reminds me. “Am I living with her?” I ask.

Donna tells me that there is no other place for me to go and that this is the best thing for me. Standing up she motions with her hand for me to leave the office and that our talk is over. I have four weeks left at the shelter before I will be moved, so it’s time to say my goodbyes.

I go into the kitchen and find Jay T. Tucker stuffing a chocolate cupcake into his mouth. He looks up at me and smiles. “Well old friend,” I say sitting next to Jay T. “It looks like my time is up here.” Jay T. starts to tell me that he has left the shelter two previous times and has been returned.  “Is that because you’re a mean mother fucker?” I ask. He laughs cupcake onto the table. He pushes himself back from the table and stands up. “Jay T. Tucker is a mean mother fucker,” he sings “And a mean mother fucker is he,” I add. He starts to pound on his chest. “Jay T. Tucker is a mean mother fucker,” he sings “And a mean mother fucker is he,” I add again. Now we begin to march around the table in rhythm to our new song. “Jay T. Tucker is a mean mother fucker,” he sings and points at me “And a mean mother fucker is he,” I sing back. Round and round the table we march when Laroy walks in the room and joins in.

Now the three of us are marching around the table singing “Jay T. Tucker is a mean mother fucker and a mean mother fucker is he.

That night in the TV room I get to meet some new kids who will be living at shelter for a couple of nights until they figure out what to do with them. There are two of them. One of them will be staying in my room and one will be staying in the hall across from me. The kid who will be staying with me is named Tom and his friends name is Alex. It turns out that they are both runaways who arrived from Buffalo. They got picked up by the police at the bus station when they spent the night sleeping on the chairs. When questioned they didn’t have any bus tickets and refused to talk about their families. After a day, the police brought them here.

Tom and I stayed up late and he told me all about his life. Alex snuck across the hall and joined us. I told them to stand at the top of the stairs where you can hear Laroy’s snoring coming from the office. If you can hear it, then the coast is clear. The rule is that once “lights out” is called, everyone needs to be found in their own room. No one challenges any of Laroy’s rules.

The next couple of days at school are strange. I tell only my closest friends that I will be leaving and living in Saratoga. It is too hard to explain and I find that saying goodbye is very tough for me.

I come home two nights later and Donna is waiting for me in the office again. She introduces me to a woman who is creating a brochure for the shelter and wonders if I would like to create the cover. I am over the moon and I am told that I only have 2 days to do it in. I get to work right away.

Three nights later a news station comes to the shelter to do a story about what they do and Donna asks me to be a part of it. The news channel doesn’t want to show my face but they get a shot of my cowboy boots walking down the sidewalk and into the front door. I am now the poster child of the runaway set, except I never “ran away.”

To be continued……..

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writting "A Day in the Life". It can not be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent.

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