I LEFT HOME AT seventeen. I took a paper bag with a toothbrush, a change of underwear, an apple, and a copy of Yoko Ono’s book Grapefruit. Grapefruit
had become my window for viewing life through art. My plan was to take the train to the Long Island Rail Road and then a bus to Valley Stream. I had left dinner in the oven for my brother, Butch, who was five years younger than me. He was the reason I stayed so long. But things were just getting worse for me. This situation with my stepfather was impossible.
At the time, my mother worked as a waitress—five days a week, sometimes six, and it was a...