I was just sitting here thinking & recalled something that happened when I was a little. I don’t have many memories from way back when – not like some people. In fact I am always amazed when a person can remember things that happened at age 3, 4, 8, 10. Mine are in patches – some clear, some blurry. This one is crystal.
I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 at the most. It was summertime – blistering out. And I had been inside playing all day by myself. I could keep me entertained for hours in my little bedroom – what with my bunk bed, card table, chair & a blanket. Indoor forts were a favorite. And my Barbies and all their pretty clothes. (I so wanted to be her when I was little.) We lived in a mobile home with paper thin walls that even a good fort couldn’t help to sound-proof. Mom & Dad were arguing again & I guess when you are small in frame, in age & in mind – things like that can be overwhelming & un-process-able. So we retreated – to our forts, our Barbies, & our whatever-can-get-our-minds-off-the-stuff, stuff. But that day nothing I did was working. I decided to take drastic measures. I was going to run away.
I had a little Barbie case that held one doll & some clothes nicely, & packed I did. To me, that was aplenty for survival out in the wild, wide world. I waited till I was sure they wouldn’t notice & I slipped out the front door, bag in hand. We lived conveniently next to a field where my parents planted beans & potatoes & corn. As good a place as any, I went traipsing down into it & as far as I could till I felt I would be undetectable. There I plopped down in the middle of two rows of something I cannot recall – I just remember it was taller than me sitting down and I was invisible, for all intents & purposes. I can almost feel the warm earth between my fingers now as I sat there with my little case & two bits of sense. And I pondered my little life.
And as deep as a child could get at that tender age, honey I went. I remember thinking if I never come back, maybe I’ll be missed. Maybe they won’t fight if I’m not there. Maybe they will stop yelling at each other & be happy. Maybe. Just maybe.
I must have been there at least 5 hours (which was probably more like 5 minutes in grown-up-time) when I thought – “Hmmm, when it gets dark I will need shelter & something to eat.” So I got up and continued on through the field to the next field, that led to the house across the highway from where we lived. Crazy, right? But I survived, obviously.
It was an old, old wooden clapboard shanty-of-a-house. A black family lived there – I went to school with one of the daughters. We rode the bus together. She was always sweet to me & that Mama of hers loved her & her siblings hard and man, could she cook. I always felt warm, loved & welcome when I got the privilege to visit them. And when I was all alone that day with my thoughts – out there in that field – that’s what I wanted to feel.
I stomped my little legs up those steps & banged on that wooden screen door. Her mama came out & asked me, understandably, what in the world was I doing there all by myself? So I told her my sordid story & how I just didn’t want to go home. I asked her if I could live with them – please. I remember she offered up a good belly-laugh & somewhere between that, a hug & an encouraging push back out the door – she gave me some wisdom. Something along the lines that I will only ever have one Mama & one Daddy, and even though they ain’t perfect, they are still my Mama & Daddy. And nobody will ever love me good like they will. And so I went back home – with her making sure I got safely across the road.
I remember the walk, although in the dead of summer, felt cooler somehow. And with a strange mix of emotion – worried I’d be in trouble when I got there – that things would not be any different & I would want to run away again – & then opposite of that, a settling. That my friend’s Mama was right. That the love I got at home, though scary & unsure at times, was real love & love nonetheless. And all the things my parents did do for me came trickling through my little head & my steps got more sure. Before I knew it I was back up my own front porch steps, through the door & back down the narrow hallway to my room – in my little world & safe again. Perspective.
At 44, there are surely still times I want to run away. To take my bag of stuff and just go. And leave everything behind. But would I really? In truth -no. It would still go with me – my silent passenger. The proverbial elephant in the room.
I think I’ll just stay put. I have everything I truly need anyway – I am surrounded with warmth, love & welcome. And I know that I know that I know that I am.
And that’s just ok.
Peace y’all & much love,