The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. -– Maya Angelou
When I was twenty, I left my family home. Sometimes, when telling this story, I say I fled. Sometimes, when telling this story, I say I left so fast I nearly broke my damn neck.
My immediate family consisted of two brothers and a sister, technically called half-siblings, my stepfather, and my mother, though “step-“ and half-“ were not descriptions we ever used. (I had an additional family member, my remarried father, with whom I maintained a wonderful relationship with until his death.) By the time I was ten, maybe eleven, my parents had saved enough money to move us from a primarily black three-story public housing complex in the famous Hill District (the “Hill” in “Hill Street Blues,” the birthplace of playwright August Wilson, and the musical playground of jazz artists Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey and Billie Eckstine) to a three-story house with porch, front and back yard in an ethnically-diverse neighborhood in Oakland, home of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Library and Museum, and Carnegie-Mellon University. Continue reading