Monday, March 10, 2014

Going Home on a Grayhound Bus

“I’m sending you back to New York tomorrow; your bus ticket is all paid for, so I guess you’d better get yourself ready to go, I think it leaves at noon from uptown.”

The words stung my ears as I listened to my husband, Marshall,  of only a year,  announce my not so distant future. It was not the news I was expecting to hear on his arrival home from work.

We had moved there, to Georgia, in haste, to his grandparents home to escape a past that wasn't too eager to let him go, and one he kept adding reason to chase him for. 

We had only been in our apartment, a nice modern duplex, for about two months when he entered in with his plans for my future.

We ended up there because I just happened to be the one with SUCKER clearly written on my forehead, and who just happened to have a car. And who also had a tendency to believe every stinking lie he ever told me, even after we had broken up earlier that year. I went back to him cuz, well, I LOVED him, ya know, he had that BAD boy thing going on and, HUM, well, isn’t that what young lovers live on, Badness and love? 

Not quite. Food and housing and a little common sense are also required; and the ability to no be intimidated. 

I had none of the requirements. It was like he struck me dumb or something.

He intimidated me. My common sense went out the window with the great future he always painted for us; the future that lured me back to him and to "do it right this time." He always had a plan, just most times they didn't work out. 

This was one of those times when the plan didn't work out and he had to clean up his mess.

“I don’t understand why you are sending me home? All we have to do is try a little harder, work a little longer, and I can get a job when I am done getting my GED at the learning center. You know I've already taken half of it, my teacher paid for it, I can take the other half next week," I yelled to him from the other room.

But I heard no reply from him. 

"Can’t we PLEASE just wait a little while longer?” I begged.

I so wanted to finish getting my GED – it was what I needed to get a job and I was SO close, just two more tests and I could work; but there was no budge in him; I could tell by the silence, I was leaving.

Looking back it actually makes my stomach ache to think I was practically begging Marshall to let me stay. It was hard living there; there were so many lies there.

IT was a lie there.                

And the web of deception this man could weave was gigantic, but he was all I had known for the last few years and I was only 22. I had spent the last 5 years waiting for this guy, I wasn't even old enough to know I should have known better, not after following him for so long. I figured I stayed with him through his time in prison; he owed me something half way descent, right, at such a young age?

Never Figure Anything.

Never let someone spend you life for you.

YOU, are NOT staying here, do you hear me? Is that clear? YOU are getting on that bus and you are going back to New York. I can’t afford you and we are gonna loose our apartment soon, so don’t argue with me. When I have a better job and things are better here for me, then I will send for you. Now get packed.” 

He was putting on the tough guy act and yea, it was pretty good and scary so I did what he said. He never hesitated to push or hit to get me going, so, I got going, I really didn't need bruises that would need explaining.

 “And you can’t take everything either, so be picky and quick about it. I will go to the pawn shop and see what they have for a suite case. Come on, get going, start getting things together,” he said hastily. He had no patience – I think, in his mind, I was already gone.

“I will be back in twenty minutes, so don’t think or do anything stupid, like trying to get out of here. No one wants to let you stay either, so get your crazy ass idea’s out of your head.  There are people watching you here in the apartment complex so just don’t think about it. I will be right back.” And with that he left, slamming the door behind him.

I was scared, but mostly scared of Marshall. Really deep, DEEP down inside I did want to go home, I had been talking to my aunt about coming home, but not like this, not with just ONE suitcase full of cloths and nothing else. My whole life was in Georgia now … but not for long.

It was a long night. I packed the gigantic suitcase Marshall had gotten me as full as I could with whatever I could get into it. It was big enough to hide a body in I swear. By the time I got what I wanted in it I think it weighed 30 pounds and I could barely lift it, but somehow I managed. I had my most important things with me.

I tried to get a hold of the one friend I had made in Georgia, Suette, but there was no way to get a hold of her.

“You will be fine, Amy, you need to get home. It will be the best for all of us. It's Thanksgiving time – it will be snowing when you get there in a couple of days. Just remember I am doing this for your well-being.”

Marshall, he was so condescending. I couldn't even say anything to him I was so angry; my own dad didn't even talk to me like he did, and my dad didn't like him either, I guess I was learning my lesson by way of the Cliff notes method.

There was no sleep that night - not for either of us. Though I don't think either of us knew it.

That morning was silent. I made a cup of coffee and sat quietly at the kitchen table that we never sat at and looked out our window into the back yard we never sat in because the Fire Ants lived there most of the time, and Marshall always had some lamb excuse to not have time to be out there "doing nothing."

I looked around our great apartment that we had slowly put together and I could NOT believe I was leaving it behind. Every picture and nick-nack, the new pillows on the couch, the TV the pictures on the walls, all of it, I just had to leave it there. 

I cried for the sake of crying I think and when he came into the kitchen I said to him, “I can’t believe you are doing this to me, to US; no one even knows I am leaving. It’s like you are sneaking me out of Georgia under the radar of everyone who would question you. Such a gentleman,” I said bitterly, because he was no gentleman. I wanted to call him a few other colorful names but why, I figured, at that very moment, HE wasn't worth the fight, not anymore, and I may as well start getting used to him being out of my life for good.

“You better call your Aunt and Gram and tell them you are coming, someone will have to go to Buffalo to pick you up, I think you get there in the morning. We’ll stop at the pay phone so you can call.”

"What a kind gesture," I thought to myself. "DO you think maybe I would need a ride from the bus station in Buffalo, you idiot?" I said to myself.

He never ceased to amaze me. And he tried so hard to be brilliant. He strutted around that apartment with a sense of victory of getting rid of the "bag of baggage," once and for all. I could see the smirk on his face every time he walked by me.

My coffee was gone, the suite case was in the car. I said good-bye to yet another dream turned nightmare he had dragged me into. 

Life with Marshall was never ending rabbit holes.

The pay phone was the only stop on our short trip to the bus stop. It was a quick call, and of course my Gram was in shock, but I gave her the information and she told me she would be there to pick me up and to have a safe trip. 

“Most girls don’t travel alone on buses for two night and two days to get home, you keep your eyes open and call me if you need too,” is all she said, and hung up.

She never said good-bye, only so-long, and that she would call my Aunt when we got off the phone so that she knew what was going on.

“Hurry up would you, the bus is gonna be there, I don’t want you to miss it,” Marshall barked. He clearly had plans upon my departure. 

I walked a little slower from the phone, on purpose this time. I opened my car door, extra slow this time and slid into the front seat; I ignored him the rest of the ride.

He raced to the bus stop which was only a few blocks from where we were, and as we crested the top of the hill in town, out of the corner of my eye I saw the Grayhound bus coming closer and closer to the bus station. I was coming closer and closer to my departure, and I knew that soon I would be out on the interstate ... kissing ol' sweet, warm Georgia goodbye.

He skidded the car into the parking spot and jumped out, slamming his door as he grabbed the handle of the door to the back seat of the car to get to my suitcase. Before I could even get out of the front seat he was plaguing me to "HURRY UP, this bus ain't gonna wait for you. Here, take your sweater, its gonna be cold there, it's snowing," he barked again. I couldn't believe he was worried I would be cold.

The bus didn't even have it's door open yet.

We stood near each other waiting for the other passengers to get off and make room for the new passengers. 

There were three of us. 

Me, an older colored man about 55, and a girl probably a few years older than me just catching a ride to the next stop about an hour away.

"I ride this bus all the time, its pretty boring actually," she said. I didn't talk to her again. I didn't even get her name.

Marshall stuck his hand out and was beginning to give me something as he said; "Here's a little money - its all I have right now, and your ticket. Don't spend to much in one place, its enough to get you some coffee and a few donuts." He handed me (in shame I believe) a wrinkled up ten dollar bill. Not even a twenty, but a ten, to travel from the tail end of Georgia all the way back to Buffalo, NY ... 962 miles ... 14.39 hours of riding with ten dollars. 

I think secretly at that point, I realized I would do much better without him.

"Really, that is all you have is ten? What am I supposed to buy with that? Is that supposed to feed me for two day?" I just chuckled and held back the tears and rolled my eyes at him, I had no more words to waist.

"I guess I should get on, they will be leaving soon," and I turned to go. He grabbed my arm and gave me a hug like none he had ever given me before and he said "I'll see you again, just right now, you have to go," and he kissed me goodbye, I didn't kiss him back. I just looked at him and shook my head and turned around and walked up those three steps into the belly of that Grayhound bus. I found my way to the back, where I could see him and where he could barley see me, and I held my head up high for a change, I had cried enough.

In a few minutes the doors slammed shut with the total of three passengers, and we headed North, all to a different locations. 

Just as the bus started to ease out of the parking lot my friend Suette showed up, waving a hand-full of magazines she thought I might like to read. Marshall must have called her, and as usual, it was a little too little, and a little late. 

She stood there outside behind the bus, waving goodbye to me, as I started my journey home - in the back of that Grayhound bus.  

The bus I rode looked just like this one.