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Detra’s story

Part 4

“She was a female doctor from the Choctaw Indian Nation. And I could tell that she’d rescued before. She stepped out of the car, slid an arm around me, and found a hand. My husband tried to stop her. But she slammed the door and told her daughter to drive. They dropped me off at the nearest Holiday Inn Express, and the first thing I did was call my sons Garrison and Lucas. Lucas had been the first of my children to leave home. He’d been the first to start asking questions. So when I told him I’d finally left his father, he understood. He said: ‘Stay right there. I’m coming to pick you up.’ He drove me fourteen hours back to his apartment in New York City. He was bringing me there to start a new life. But I felt like I was going there to die. My other children were sending me texts. They were angry. Two of them asked me to not come home. They felt like I’d abandoned God, and abandoned our family. I couldn’t blame them. It’s exactly what I’d taught them all these years. Lucas and his wife Margaret did their best to make me feel welcome. One night we had dessert on top of the Standard Hotel just as the sun was going down, and we got to watch all the lights come on in Manhattan. New York was like this machine. And I didn’t know about this machine. Was it friendly, or an enemy? I did notice pretty quickly that there wasn’t any judgement. Near our apartment there was a plaza, with a place to sit. Complete strangers would sit down next to me, and they’d want to know my story. When I explained that I had run away from a pastor husband, I would always pause—and I’d wait for the judgment. But it never came. Instead people would give me a high five. I made so many new friends. Some of the women dressed a little funny, but everyone was pleasant. At dinnertime I would tell Lucas about all the people I was meeting in the plaza, and he’d say: ‘Mama, you’ve been in New York for a week. And your network is bigger than mine.’ I could tell he was a little jealous. Finally he decided to come see for himself. I went around the plaza and introduced him to my entire network. As we were leaving to go home, he said: ‘Mama, all of your friends are druggies and prostitutes.’”

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