We walked all day. We left the apartment on the canal on Ashland Avenue, which was almost Grosse Pointe, and walked all the way to Belle Isle. Past the giant Goodrich Tire, all the way down Jefferson Avenue, halfway to downtown. Once we got to the bridge that crossed the Detroit River to Belle Isle, we walked that too, and spent hours sitting on the grass and watching the people. Once it started to move into mid afternoon, we walked back across the bridge and made our way into the neighborhoods radiating out from the river toward Hamtramck.
It was dark by the time we found ourselves outside a small neighborhood grocery, sitting on the corner of a street lined with small, tidy post war houses. Lights flickered on in those houses, one by one, down the street as we stood there looking at them, wishing we lived in one of them and, like the inhabitants we imagined just sitting down to dinner, we too had a home, with a kitchen and dinner on the table, and a warm bed waiting for us down the small hallway.
We turned to the door to the grocery, and with a small burst of hope, walked in. The middle aged woman behind the cash register asked if she could help us. She was about to close, she said. “Do you know…is there anybody you know who might take us in for the night?” That was my mother. She looked exhausted. She’d looked exhausted all day. And sad. The woman looked at her, at me. “Why yes,” she said. “I believe I do.” I was six.