Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Run, Run, Run, Run, Runaway

It's in our nature to seek out that which is better, even as adolescents, but at that time we lack relativity, so the grass looks greener over the fence a lot more often, so we sometimes vault over to check it out.  

     I know a good deal when I've got one, so to my knowledge, I never ran away from home.  Sure, I had days where the chore I was asked to do seemed so patently unfair that I was very unhappy, and I recall one time spending 20 minutes writing a letter to my father outlining how unfair giving me a particular chore was (The chore only took 5 minutes), but I never bolted from home.  You see three
A typical note left when running away
squares a day, a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in always looked better than the alternative life that I could imagine on the road, at any age that I might have considered leaving.  I blame Star Trek.  I never aspired to be captain Kirk, the impetuous leader of the crew, I identified more with Mr. Spock, the reasoned, logical, sidekick, who thought through his actions prior to taking them, chess, not checkers.  So I stayed with my parents, right up until the day that they kicked me out, but that wasn't the case with a particular sibling and my own children though.

     My brother Redface had the family record for running away.  His attempts rivaled those of Steve McQueen in the Great Escape, and if I had to put a number to them, I'd say he tried about 7 times.  Two of these attempts stick in my memory a little more than the others.  The first was one evening when a police car pulled up to the curb in front of my house, and an officer got out to talk to
my mother.  He questioned whether she was missing a child, and she replied while looking around, "I don't think so".  He then opened the back door of the squad car, and there sat my brother Redface.  In the trunk was his bike, and he had made it a few miles before the chain on his bike came off and when an officer checked on him, his fabricated story of going to visit his cousins didn't hold water.  The funny thing was that he was missing all day and we had never noticed.  It was pretty common for us all to head to the playground in the summer and stay there the better part of the day, so we would all catch up at dinnertime and this allowed him a long time to hit the open road before his absence was noticed.  It was pretty quiet at the dinner table that particular evening where Redface sat with his head down and tried to avoid eye contact with my father.  It was repeated a few years later when he tried to run away in the middle of practicing for the high school track team.  This was probably the latest (oldest) anyone in
the family had tried to run away, and I'm not sure how serious the attempt was, but in the midst of running around the town with the track team, he came upon a Volkswagen Beetle (Punchbug!) idling at a curb and he jumped in and tried to drive it.  He barely could see over the steering wheel and he put it into a ditch not too far from where he took it.  He was a slave to his impulses often and this was a perfect example of how he would act first and then regret his actions later.  He never really lost this wanderlust or idea of somewhere else being better that where he currently was.   As adults we worked together at a pizza place and when I asked him what he did on the weekend before, he'd often reply, " I drove to Connecticut" or a place like that.  He'd jump in his car, with no plan, no itinerary and just drive in a certain direction.  He'd sleep in his car most times, but would return for his Monday shift.  I'm not sure what my brother Redface was looking for out there, but I'm pretty sure he never found it.  It's highly probable that I never ran way because of his examples, he never made it out, and it was never better when he came back from one of his escape attempts either.

     My children's examples are far more tame than my brothers.  Our daughter Molly attempted to run away one day.  I'm sure it was in response to something egregiously done to her by her horrific
parents, but there she was one afternoon packing a backpack and heading out.  She was our first and if I knew anything about running away, it was that you had to call the bluff.  We wished her well and off she went around the block.  We were certain that she'd turn around and head back at any moment, right up until the moment that she didn't.  My wife had to chase her down with our van and negotiate with her as she ran parallel to her.  Her feet, however, were pointed away from home and she showed no sign of losing her nerve.  That's when we learned that Molly doesn't bluff, she does exactly what she says she will do.  Eventually my wife found the right combination of words that got her to come home.  We helped her to unpack her backpack and this was classic Molly too, there wasn't a damned thing in there to help her on the open road, it was just full of her favorite stuffed animals.  She's had her moments of leaping before she looks after then too that Mr. Spock would not approve of, and I suspect she's tied closer to her impulses than some others.

     Dan's attempt, that I remember, went a little differently.  We called his bluff too, but had the car keys ready, just in case.  He had packed and was headed out.  I remember a small rolling case of some sort that he took (did it have a bear on it?), but he never made it as far as Molly did.  We
watched from a concealed window as he made it to the end of the driveway and then slowly started walking in circles as he reconsidered his actions.  It took a few minutes and a few rotations before he headed back and informed us he had decided to stay.  Overjoyed. we killed the fatted calf and welcomed him back with open arms.  He at least had packed some food for the journey so he wouldn't have starved immediately on the road.  If those two kids had ever put their heads together, between the two of them, they probably had the nerve and the packing sense to successfully run away, but I'm kind of glad that they never did.  Our last child, Nolan insists that he attempted to run away too, but neither of us remember it happening.  I suspect that it never got beyond the planning stages because he's a lot like his father.  Thus ends this blog on bolting, but I'd love to hear some stories from my older siblings and from my readers.   I promise I'll stay around to read them. 


1 comment:

Daphne Mays said...

I missed this one last week. I ran away once when I was about 5. My parents called my uncle a couple miles up the road and he came and picked me up until I cooled off. I don't remember too many other details.

I distinctly remember one of mine packing a bag and tossing it out the window of his room. Unfortunately the bag was VERY heavy and I was in the room right below. It wasn't that interesting any more once we knew he was going. The boys "ran away" to the neighbor's house once but they came home in a few hours. In that episode we bribed the girl child with ice cream to get her to stay. It worked.