What Makes Us Different

I left home when I was still in high school. I went to a high school where if you were absent or late that day, they’d call your home. They called my home and my father answered the phone and they asked why I was out and my father said, “Why don’t you ask her?” and they said, “Well, what do you mean ask her? Isn’t she there with you?” My parents weren’t big on parenting but my father was gung-ho on civil rights. They said, there’s no way she can go to a public high school in New York if she doesn’t live with her parents and my father said, “Show me where it says that in the law. Are her grades falling? Is she ever late?” They said no, her grades are fine and she’s never late. He was big on civil rights. So they left me alone and I finished high school, then I moved to the city.

I got married when I was about twenty one or so. And I had three children very close together. I had three boys. One set are twenty months apart and the other set are twenty-two months apart. By the time the oldest one was four, their father died. It was a bad year in the United States. It was the years that Martin Luther King had been killed, that Kennedy had been killed. I didn’t want my children to grow up in America. I decided that was it.

They were looking for teachers in the Virgin Islands and I figured that would be a good idea, so I headed to the Virgin Islands. Years passed and when my oldest child was about ten, I married again. I married Don Hogue. I remember my oldest son, as an adult, said to me, “Mom, what kind of crazy person would marry you? What man in his right mind would marry someone with three kids? He must’ve been either insane or he loved you.” I pointed out that he found them quite appealing too. So it led to a different kind of life.

Don Hogue was a wonderful woodworker. He was also a sculptor. He sculpted in metal. He became well-known for sculpting and welding metal. As a matter of fact, PBS keeps running this thing on him, this thing that runs for less than three minutes. I keep seeing it come up all over the place.

So it made for a very different life and I’m not at all like the family I grew up in. I had a different kind of experience. Even how I came back to New York is a different kind of experience and it proves that if I knew anything about geography I wouldn’t have landed back in New York.