Paul and I are standing on the corner of 116th and Broadway waiting for the WALK sign, when up pulls a big black Cadillac. Out jump Jaime and the longhaired, tanned, bare-armed Boo, real name Eleanor.
"Want a ride?" they ask.
"Whose car is this?" we say.
"We boosted it," says Miss Debutante, which is what I call Boo. Jaime is tall and handsome, tawny skin, dark eyebrows.
"Are you out of your minds?" we ask.
"It's okay, we'll take it back soon," says Boo.
Jaime's in law school. Or maybe he's dropped out, after the shouting, the cops entering campus buildings, swinging their clubs. The day after the bust, people walked around campus with bandages or arms in casts.
Paul and I had already gone down to Philly and had screaming arguments with my parents. They didn't understand why students were protesting, and they didn't get the sit-ins.
"Gandhi," we said, "Martin Luther King, you see. Nonviolent protests against the military industrial complex."
"Bull crap," my dad said. "It's trespassing. I saw the picture of that kid with the long hair and sunglasses, smoking a cigar, feet up on the college president's desk. You should've gone to St. Ann's here. Waste of money sending you there with all those Communists."
"We're moving in together," we said. My mother cried and my father got up from his armchair and left the room.
Paul and I took the bus back and moved stuff out of my dorm into the basement apartment with the galley kitchen. My mother kept calling me, crying, saying I'm ruining my life. She wrote me letters saying they wouldn't pay my tuition if I'm living in sin.
So here we are, talking to Boo and Jaime and we tell them about our situation.
"Why don't you get married?" Boo asks.
I say that won't work. "If I get married before I finish college, I'll have to pay for everything myself as soon as I slip that wedding ring onto my finger."
We walk back to the apartment.
Paul's already cashed his paycheck at the bursar's office and gone down to the Shopwell on 110th to buy groceries. When he turns the key to apartment C, the lock clicks and the door falls open. The room is suffused with a rich, savory smell.
He lifts the top of a battered pot and checks the stew, thickens it with cornstarch. There's a loaf of crusty rye bread with a little sticker that says DIAMOND BAKERY. We sit on the floor with tall glasses of milk, tear off chunks of bread and dunk them in the stew. We turn out all the lights but one and climb into the bed be bought a few days before. We open the window by the airshaft to let in a breeze.
Just before we drift off to sleep, Paul says, "Let's get married."
I say, "It's a lovely thought and we'll talk about it tomorrow."
How We Got Married