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2 young cousins runaway and experience freedom for a day


Time now for StoryCorps. Forty years ago, Monica Jordan moved in with her cousin, LaTonya, in Atlanta. That's when the cousins became more like sisters. They were raised by their moms in a house with plenty of rules. At StoryCorps, they remembered an afternoon when they were 7 and 9 and got a rare glimpse of freedom.

LATONYA WALKER: My mother was very, very strict. I was like, man, I just want to go outside and play.

MONICA JORDAN: Yeah. We couldn't do that. You know, our parents had to work. So for their peace of mind and for our safety, we could go no further than the front yard. Our friends would come over. And we would tell them that we were going to run away. And they never believed us.

WALKER: One particular morning, I wanted to go somewhere. And I asked my mom. And the answer, of course, was, no, as it was always. But I was tired of hearing no. And I was the one that decided, hey, we're going to run away. So you and I went downstairs. We packed a backpack with some Oreos, some orange slices, some little sandwiches.

JORDAN: And, like, the really old-school bologna sandwiches with the little red ring that you had to pull off the sides of them. We left, like, 8 or something that morning. And we just started walking up the road. I do remember us going in the mall. And it was just one full day of playtime.

WALKER: And then, I remember we pulled out a map. And we was like, we're going to go to my dad's house. He was the fun dad. I could eat what I want, do what I want. And so as we were walking up this little ramp...

JORDAN: There's these two men yelling, hey, hey. You all can't go on that interstate. It's dangerous.

WALKER: It turns out that one of them actually knew my father.

JORDAN: They called him and took us back home. By this time, it was nighttime. When we pulled up, our friends drove up in their bikes. And they were like, oh, my God, you all did it, as we went into the house, knowing full well that we probably wouldn't see them for an entire week.

WALKER: That's when we got the stern words.

JORDAN: My mom just actually flat out asked me - what possessed us to (laughter) run away like that?

WALKER: (Laughter).

JORDAN: Like, what were you all thinking? And I always say, I was just following you, like (laughter)...

WALKER: Oh, Lord.

JORDAN: We did something really foolish. But I will have to admit - for, like, a half a second, I felt like we were heroes. Our parents raised us to be independent. And I realized that I've never been afraid to just go out and wander the world on my own.

WALKER: I think that's probably why I'm not married, because I don't want to have to answer to anybody (laughter). So yeah, that's what that meant to me, just living my life on my own terms, that same little fearless girl I still am today.


MARTINEZ: That was LaTonya Walker and her cousin, Monica Jordan. Their StoryCorps conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "FEATHERSOFT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Janmaris Perez