Nevertheless, it gave me a glimpse into the kind of home and family I wanted when I grew up. I loved these times when I could get away from the fighting and stress of my own home. It seemed that my cousins lives were safe and full of activities and beauty. When I returned home, there was usually criticism and negative comments about who I had just visited. Especially concerning my Aunt Margaret and Aunt Dorothy who appeared to be more affluent than my Aunt Ann.
When I reached the entrance of my Aunt Ann’s apartment, the impact of the cool lobby with its’ marble floors and open space, with no one in it but me, was such a contrast from the blistering heat of the buses and the crowded streets. I would ring the buzzer of her apartment to be admitted through the large door. When I entered, it was always a feeling of accomplishment that I had arrived. The one thing that struck me was that no one lived there but Auntie Ann. It was quiet and she was used to being alone. I really noticed this on one of my visits when she was changing clothes and walked quickly from one end of the apartment to the other while removing her blouse and bra. I thought this was shocking as I had never seen a naked woman. On several occasions, we sat and discussed the possibility of my moving in with her one day. This made perfect sense to me as she had no husband or children in her life and she seemed very interested in the idea. We talked about how we could go to the little deli around the corner and pick out one of the chickens spinning on the rotisserie for our dinner as we often did when I arrived. We would dream about what it would be like if I lived there. She talked about where I could go to school and also how she could fulfill my dream of going to college and becoming a nurse, just like in my “Cherry Ames Registered Nurse” books. These were things that would never happen in a home where we were regularly told that, ‘You’re lucky to have a roof over your head and food on the table and not have to live in the ghetto!’ This life with Auntie Ann seemed like a door to a world that I would never have a shot at again. I thought all of this sounded really special but part of me felt uneasy, like it was going too far. I didn’t feel like I was ready to leave my family, while at the same time I did not want to lose hold of such a special door opening.
One Saturday night, our conversations progressed and our hopes grew. We thought that this dream we had could possibly become a reality when suddenly the door buzzer was going off. I was startled as we were deep in conversation and rarely did anyone coming to visit when I was there. As Auntie Ann answered the buzzer through a speaker, I was shocked to hear my Father's voice. Then there was his eventual presence standing in front of us, “Get your things and follow me to the car now.” I asked, “Why do I have to leave when I just arrived.”
Before I knew it, I was being whisked outside as he grabbed my arm tightly and began accusing me of having made him leave work to come and get me. I didn’t understand why he had come. His anger rose as he tightened his grip on my arm. He began dragging me to the car as he said in a rage, “You have embarrassed me and made me look bad in front of my family.” It slowly and painfully began to dawn on me that what I believed was a private and special conversation between my Auntie Ann and I, had somehow been shared with my Father. I was shocked and full of fear of my dad like I had been caught doing something terribly wrong. I was so sad for my Auntie Ann and how abandoned she must have felt. Especially after my parents forced me to write a note to tell her I never really wanted to live with her! I never saw her again and one year later, she died when I was 13. Although I pleaded, I was not allowed to go to her funeral.
Through Story Exploration
Bringing this story to my group brought more anxiety than what I expected. I still had so much confusion about what all happened. As we explored this, some of the lies became clear: