I don’t know if I attract people who are “down-and-out” or if they attract me.

A girl approached me at the bus stop, “You know when the next bus gets here?” I looked at the LED sign, “Four minutes.”

“I like your style,” she said.


“I just ranaway from home.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, I’m from Seattle. I slept outside last night.”

We talked for the four minutes until the bus arrived, she then asked if she could get on with me. I said she could as long as she had fare.

We sat in the very back and talked more.

I never asked her name, and she never offered it, so I’ll call her Amira.

Her story is that she left her mom, a crack-addict with a three bedroom home in Seattle. She asked me where I’m from and said her dad’s in Chicago, too. But he’s mean and an alocholic (I let her know mine was too, but left out that he’s now sober). Amira told me she was headed to Miami. I asked her why and she said,

“I dunno. It’s warm there and I can lie on the beach.”

She mentioned a friend in Madison (?), Wisconsin. I asked her why she wasn’t going there, “Would she tell on you?”

“Yeah, prolly.”

Amiri was too fresh-faced to have been around the streets long, though she admitted having run away before, when she was 14. I asked her hold old she was and she said 20. It surprised me that she wasn’t a minor. But she then told me her mom can “control her” because of her disability. The disability wasn’t visible, and her mind was sharp enough for conversation, so I asked her if she was on meds, and let her know some of my stuff too. She said she’d tried to commit suicide before, I said I’d done the same. She was in the hospital afterward, so was I.

When she said she’d probably go get a beer I said you’re not really supposed to mix the meds with alcohol. Amiri seemed genuinely surpised by this. My explanation was that it messes up how the meds are supposed to work. I told her a long time ago I was on medication and I drank, a lot. And that was before the time I’d attempted suicide. I left it at that.

I told her she knows there are crazy people in this city. She knows.

I said, “The shelters probably aren’t much better, are they?”

“No. I hate shelters.”

Finally, before my stop came I told her about the Marina Dock (a.k.a. the Dry Dock) off Fillmore on Greenwich. Best I could think of.

She asked me where I was going and I said home. She didn’t ask to come home with me. And I wouldn’t have offered, nor would I have let her.

As I sit here now, I’m wondering if I should do “the right thing”. Should I try to get in touch with the Seattle PD and inquire about a missing person? Should I call the SFPD? Do I think it’s better for her to go back to living with (I’m taking her at her word, obviously) “crack-head” mother or end up in detention for running away (as she revealed, she had before)?

I don’t know, so I write.

I list the facts (?) I know:

“Amiri” is 20 years old, Black with her head shaved.

She’s maybe 5’8″.

She’s wearing very baggy dark jeans and has a backpack with contains mostly her coat.

She has a pierced lip. She is pretty. Her skin is clear. Her face is round.

She has a grandmother in Louisiana who she loves but doesn’t like.

She has a friend in Madison, Wisconsin. She says her mom is already there, looking for her.

She has about 30 days worth of her medication.

Before I got off at my stop she asked me if I had any money and I told her I was sorry.


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One Response to “Runaway”

  1. califmom Says:

    As a 20yo, she’d be a missing person, not a runaway, wouldn’t she? At best, they could notify her relatives of her whereabouts, I guess. Sounds more like she needs the resources of a full program, like Glide Memorial or something on that level — sobriety, mental health care, vocational training. Very tough call. If she’s being truthful about her family, it doesn’t sound like they’re the support she needs right now, but it’s difficult to know if she’s be honest about that.

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