Edwina and I made a trip to her old neighborhood this afternoon. She’s told me a lot over the years about growing up in Pratt City and moving to Ensley when she discovered she was pregnant with Steve, and I asked her to show me where all of the things she’s shared with me took place.
After a quick lunch, we drove out to the house she lived in as a kid. It’s one of the few buildings not boarded up in the area. Pratt City is a poor community and the tornados that came through in 2011 demolished much of what was still standing.
She also showed me the store, still open for business, run by the family of the young man who raped her when she was just 15. It’s a moment that changed her life forever–in part, I think, because she felt as though there was no going back in time. She’d been violated in a way that changed the way she looked at herself, and men.
Then there was the storefront where a pay phone once stood, and where Edwina was standing when the man, more than ten years her senior, grabbed her and dragged her to his car.
As painful as the memories of home must have been, Edwina told me she was more uncomfortable visiting Ensley.
“That where I did drugs,” she said, as we drove quickly through the part of town where the house she lived in with baby Steve once stood.
“My momma die in that house, too,” she reminded me. “‘Member I told you it just her and me when she pass away.”
As always, Edwina didn’t mince words. It was admittedly a complicated homecoming, but I caught Edwina smiling once or twice as she tried to paint a picture for me to show what her life had been like many years ago.