I moved my tassel to the other side and threw my white graduation cap in the air to meet the hundreds of others. The following day at eighteen years old, my “friend” Jimmy and I flew into Newark Airport outside of New York City. I always promised myself that I would leave that Midwestern town and I had finally made it out.
Jimmy slept downstairs in the living room and after a week, he went back home. Although I was underage, my aunt snuck me into a dance club a couple of nights later. There, I met a man in is “late twenties” named Herb. He was a black man with the most amazing hazel eyes. He bought me drinks and later gave me his card. (He was a part-time real estate agent in who lived in Somerset, NJ.) I had made it to the big city.
The following day, he drove to Newark to hang out with me. My grandfather, who was a pastor, would not allow me off of the porch with Herbie once I told him how old he was. So every night, Herbie would take the drive and sit on the porch with me until about midnight. After a couple of weeks, my aunt suggested that Herbie attend church with us on Sunday morning. She believed that my grandfather would trust him more if he would attend church. So Herbie agreed and our first date was to the Prince concert in Madison Square Garden. This was turning out to be my best summer ever.
Herbie told me that he loved me after the first time we slept together. We didn’t use protection, but he assured me that he was disease free. I remember feeling so special. A college educated, older man was in love with me. He was also the best lover I ever had. I began to do anything to be with him and would often miss break my grandfather’s curfew.
One night, Herbie and I were having one of our long conversations, over the phone, when he confessed that he was really thirty-four years old. That didn’t matter to me because my father was sixteen years older than my mother. He was so happy that I was not upset and assured me that he would never lie to me again. He did mention that he had something else to tell me, but he would tell me on another day. There was nothing that would keep me away from him.
His second confession came after an argument. I don’t remember what the fight was about, I just remember the confession. He gave me an explanation of why we didn’t always make love … he had herpes and he was contagious at the moment. I asked why he hadn’t told me before we slept together and he said that I wouldn’t have given him a chance. So, in my young and dumb way, I wanted to assure him that I loved him and I continued to sleep with him.
I called my hometown to talk to one of my friends who told me that Jimmy had been saying that he had slept with my aunt. My aunt was two years older than me and Jimmy was good-looking, so I immediately used it as a reason to run away from my grandfather and moved in with Herbie.
After we had been living together for about a month, I realized that Herbie had a lot of random visitors at all times of the day or night. He also received a lot of phone calls from friends and would disappear for hours. He would tell me to stay in the room while he went out to talk to them in the living room. Sometimes, he would take me out to clubs with his friends, but basically, we’d just stay home because I was too young to get into places.
Herbie’s mother and her boyfriend moved in with us while their house was being built. Trying to stay out of her way, I either remained in the bedroom or I would try to take stay at the college. By that time, I had signed up for school in Jersey City. One night, I woke up to a bedroom full of men measuring white powder on a scale. I was completely naked, but Herbie had covered me up with a blanket. I pulled the blanket around me and Herbie came over, kissed me, and assured me that everything was going to be alright. He just couldn’t do this outside of the bedroom because he didn’t want his mother to know. Still, I didn’t leave Herbie.
Thankfully, I was taking my finals on the day that he was arrested. Everyone in his house was arrested with him with him. Herbie received a ten-year sentence and the spell was broken.