I was turning tricks since I was 15. My father was in prison for manslaughter and my mother was a coke head. I didn’t have any siblings. I was the only child. I thought of dropping out of school and finding a job so I could save up enough money to blow this city but I then I decided that I wanted to make quick money. I was an attractive looking girl. I’ve had many boys and men hit on me. So the plan was that I would go to school during the day and turn tricks at night. I knew exactly where to go. It was a prime spot where rich men drove up in their fancy cars. So, I started out walking the streets and getting into cars which took me to dark alleys. I made a lot of money which I hid in a box under my mattress. When I had enough, I would leave home and go to another state where I could start a new life.
One of my johns was a foreign businessman. I met him when I was 17. I suspected that he was German because of his accent. It reminded me of Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List. He took a real liking to me and several times he picked me up in his black sedan. He didn’t take me to an alley but to a quiet spot on a bridge or at a lookout place where you could see the city below. It got so that he didn’t want me to have other johns so I went only with him and instead waiting for him in the usual pick up area, I waited outside of The QG department store. Then, he bought a fancy and very expensive penthouse apartment uptown and that was where he and I would go every night. I didn’t mind. He was very attractive, probably in his early or mid-forties and he was rich. He bought me jewelry, a fur coat and expensive dresses. I later found out that I was the first and only prostitute he had ever been with.
He was a very intelligent and he exposed me to the finer things in life. He lent me books by German classic authors such as Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and German-Swedish poet, Nelly Sachs. He started taking me to the opera, museums and the ballet. Sometimes we enjoyed fine dining and a couple of times we took weekend trips to Ocean City, Calvert Cliffs State Park, Deep Creek Lake and Chesapeake Beach. We drew some attention wherever we went but he didn’t seem to care. I always worried that I might run into one of my former johns, though. Then, I figured that they would probably wouldn’t even recognize me because the lighting was always poor when I was with them or if they did recognize me, they would act like they didn’t know me. I was glad that I was off the streets and that I had a man who was taking care of me.
There were times when we didn’t see each other because he had to go away on business. I missed him like crazy and was always thrilled when he came back. When he showed up at the penthouse, I would throw myself at him and we would kiss each other wildly and end up in bed where we spent most of our time. I wondered sometimes if he was in a relationship. I didn’t notice a wedding ring but he could have removed it. I was afraid to ask because I was afraid of the answer.
When I graduated from high-school, I applied to three universities and got accepted to all three. He offered to pay for my tuition. I chose John Hopkins University. When I told him that my area of study was Computational Medicine, he seemed a bit surprised. I explained to him that I loved computers and have always been interested how human diseases are identified, analyzed and treated. I showed him the books on Human Disease which I had borrowed from the library. The whole thing must have seemed strange to him because I used to turn tricks. I never had unprotected sex with any of my johns because I didn’t want to contract HIV/AIDS or get pregnant. I never kissed any of them nor engaged in fellatio. I was a prostitute but I had my standards. I was lucky I was never met with any danger or violence as some girls have done. I think Someone was watching over me.
One day I was in the kitchen fixing dinner when my mother stumbled in. She looked awful. “So, where you got them fancy clothes from?” she demanded.
I turned to face her. “Mama, you have no right to go into my room without my permission.”
“Don’t you sass me, Girl. I got every right to do what I want in my house. Now, answer me, where did you get them clothes?”
“I saved up and bought them.”
“Where did you get the money to save up?”
“I got a job after school,” I lied.
“What job? Where? How come you didn’t tell me ’bout it before?”
I didn’t answer.
She came closer to me and studied me. “You lyin’,” she said. “Where did you get the money?”
“Mama, please leave me alone.”
“You been turnin’ tricks?”
“No, Mama.” That was true. I wasn’t on the streets any more.
“Did you rob somebody?”
I looked at her. “No, Mama! I’m not a thief.”
“Then, you got yo’self a Sugar Daddy.”
“Mama, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m fixing dinner. Why don’t you sit down at the table and have some? You don’t look like you’ve eaten all day.” I tried to help her over to the table but she slapped my hand away.
“Don’t give me that,” she snapped. “You’ve been holding out on me.”
“No, I haven’t, Mama,” I denied.
“Give me some of that money. I deserve it for all them years I struggled hard to raise you after yo’ Daddy got thrown in prison. Give me some of that money.”
I got angry then. “So that you could waste it on drugs? No, Mama, I’m not going to feed your drug habit. You need help.”
She drew her hand back and slapped me hard across the face. “Don’t you talk to me like that!”
I threw the spoon down, turned off the stove and rushed out of the kitchen. I ran out of the house, hailed a cab and went to the penthouse. I spent the night there. When I went back to the house, my mother wasn’t there. I decided that I would going to move out. I had had enough of her and her drug problem. I quickly threw all of my clothes and jewelry in the suitcase. I put the money I kept hidden under the mattress in my satchel. I went to get my fur coat but it wasn’t there. I searched my room and the entire apartment but couldn’t find it. Then, it dawned on me that my mother must have taken it. She was probably going to sell it for money to buy drugs. Hatred and fury welled up inside me and grabbing my suitcase, I stormed out of that miserable place I had called home for 19 years.
I moved into the penthouse and when my man came there the following night after returning from one of his business trips, I told him what had happened. “I can’t believe she sold my fur coat,” I wailed. “I loved it because you gave it to me.”
“Don’t worry about the coat,” he said. “I can buy you another one. But, your mother…she needs help.”
“When I told her that, she slapped me.”
“She slapped you because of how you spoke to her, Tamika. She’s still your mother and you should still show her some respect.”
I didn’t answer. I lowered my eyes feeling a little ashamed. I got up from the sofa and stood in front of him with my head bent like a school girl who had done something bad, standing before the principal.
“I have a friend who used to be a drug addict but now he’s a pastor. Perhaps, I could get in touch with him.”
When I looked up at him, there were tears in my eyes. I realized then that I was madly in love with this incredible man who wanted to help my mother, a woman he had never met. “Thank you,” I whispered before I reached up and put my arms around his neck.
He held me tightly and then when he drew back, he murmured, “I want to marry you, Tamika.”
I stared at him, stunned. “Why?” I asked.
“Weil ich dich liebe.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Because I love you.”
I swallowed hard. “I love you too, Dieter.”
He caressed my cheek with his knuckles. “I want to take care of you.”
“And I want to be your wife,” I said in tears.
He smiled that winsome smile of his before he lowered his head and kissed me.
The next day, he officially proposed and two weeks later, we got married. The penthouse became our home. He relocated to the office in Baltimore. In two and a half years I will be graduating from John Hopkins and am thinking of doing my Masters. Dieter is very supportive and proud of me. We have both decided that after I have completed my Masters, we will plan on having children.
His friend, Jakub, the polish pastor and former drug addict visited my mother and he was able to get through to her. She’s now in a rehab center getting the help she needs. Dieter and I began to attend Jakub’s church where we were warmly welcomed by the congregation. We began to study the Bible with Jakub and a year later, we gave our lives to Jesus Christ and were baptized. Now, I’m actively involved Women’s Ministries and Dieter is an elder. We are extremely happy that we found each other and Christ. My mother is doing well and she is currently doing Bible Studies with Jakub.
I have learned that no matter where we are or how far we have fallen, God will always find a way to reach us.