Hers is a familiar story. Desperately chasing bad love, self-esteem shattered.
I met Lynn at the Sacramento station. She was trying to get back to her hometown of Santa Rosa, in central California. Trying, because she had no identification, claiming her purse had been stolen during a mugging somewhere on the road. Sometimes, the Greyhound drivers checked IDs, but other times they let travelers pass through. If they checked, she’d be stranded in Sacramento, where she had spent the past two nights. It sounded as if Lynn and Greyhound were familiar with each other. She tells of one bus driver leaving her at the side of the road when the company called to tell him her credit card was bad.
She paused, turned away, began sobbing. I asked if she wanted to continue and she shook her head yes.
Lynn was traveling from Denver back to Santa Rosa. She left Santa Rose several years back, left an abusive relationship, left to find a new life in Denver. She has a Masters in Social Work and was able to find a good job in Denver, away from the boyfriend, the chaos. But she missed him, the chaos. So, she paid to move him to Denver, promising herself that she was stronger, that it would be better this time. It wasn’t. The good news for Lynn was that fate intervened. He was arrested for aggravated auto theft.
That was a year ago. The boyfriend was released and allowed to move back to Santa Rosa where he said he had work. Lynn had an issue at work that resulted in her going on disability. It was the one thing she didn’t want to talk about. The disability ran out and she didn’t have job prospects in Denver. So, she headed back to Santa Rosa.
“You’re going back to live with him,” I asked.
Again, she sobbed, looked away. Gathering her composure, Lynn told me that she had a few half brothers in Santa Rosa. Half brothers with whom she had minimal contact in recent years. She hoped one of them would give her refuge until she could get back on her feet.
The obvious question from me: “So, if your half brothers won’t take you in, is he your only option?”
For the first time in our conversation, she turned and looked me in the eyes, shedding what I knew had been humiliation to share her story. With an air of defiance, certainty, she said: “I will never go back to him. Never.”
I want to believe Lynn, believe that she has had enough, and can muster the strength to justify her defiance.
My bus was called and I asked if she would let me take her picture. She was reluctant, knowing how she looked, at what the endless sobbing had done to her face. Hinting at a smile and wiping the tears from her face said, Lynn said:
“OK, but take it from my right side. That’s my best side.”