I was shopping for a dress to wear for my sister's wedding with the ladies of my immediate family on Sunday and we got to talking about childhood stories. I have always loved that my family is so in to reflecting on our lives, laughing about all of our crazy experiences. My most cherished memories of my Grandfathers are of them telling me stories of their childhood. My paternal grandpa was especially good at story telling and boy did he have a ton to share! I decided to start this little weekly feature which is simple enough: memories from my childhood! I was always a pretty ridiculous child and plan on sharing my many antics. I wish I could take everyone of you on a complete journey but some memories I think are not meant to be put in front of the whole wide world, some are just too special or emotional and I don't mean for this to be a complete memoir of growing up. Nope, those super special ones will remain locked away in my little brain. BUT with that being said the one thing I can promise is raw memories, truth, humor, maybe a lesson or two thrown in there.
I was always a free child. My mom says that the first time I tried to run away I was no older than three. I escaped from the apartment we were living in, trekked all the way across the complex with my final destination being one of my babysitters. I like to think that I have always been one to create emotional attachments to anyone who cares for me so that's why I needed to go see her. To my poor mom's horror her toddler ran away, with a clear mission in mind! Luckily I was returned home safely. I'm sure my parents started to worry about my independent streak at a young age. Not long after that I escaped again. This time buck naked. I was found at the community pool, my face pressed against the iron gate, peering in at my neighbors swimming. I'm sure I just wanted a dip, a skinny dip apparently. Fast forward a few years and I found myself convincing my older sister to help me sell our encyclopedias around the neighborhood in order to raise funds for my survival. Sell we did. I have no real idea why some people actually did give us money, but it happened. I got so far as to packing things into a pillowcase, planning on making my big move to the bushes in the bike trail above our housing track some time that week. My dad discovered that we had peddled books to our neighbors and insisted we return the money. A girl can't survive without money so my dreams were laid to rest for the time being. I asked for a Barbie Jeep year after year for Christmas and envisioned myself driving it across the country to my Aunt Sharon's house in Missouri. All I needed was the jeep filled with batteries and I was good to go, since Santa could make anything happen I knew he was just waiting out for the right time. For me to be ready. After a few years of begging Santa for one, my parents' crumbled and had to tell me that Santa wasn't real; I would never get the escape vehicle my dreams were made of. Oh, how I longed for independence, for the wind in my hair as I roared down the highway at top Barbie Jeep speeds. Again, my plans were laid to rest.
I got older and still dreamt of the day I would be on my own. I carefully saved my allowance in my yellow Crayola crayon bank. With bigger and more realistic plans of taking a bus cross country I knew I needed more money if this was going to happen. I must have been elven or twelve by this time and the day was coming for me to leave home. I popped open the old bank and tucked my money away in my fanny pack then hid it under my bed next to my backpack. At night I lay in bed with my secrets burning away underneath me. My dad was always an ultra detective and one night after dinner he was in my room with me when he some how discovered, yet again, my suspicious money stuffed fanny pack. As confidently and honestly as I could, I told him I planned on leaving. All these years later I still wanted to run away for no real reason in particular other than I simply wanted to be on my own. He reached in his pocket, pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to me. He instructed me to come with him, that if I wanted to leave I could. I remember seeing my little sister crying in the hallway as I walked passed her to the garage. I never thought until that moment that all of my attempts at escape may have hurt those around me. Independence came with a price I realized. I trembled and sobbed as my dad drove me down the street, how easily he was letting me go! We arrived in downtown and pulled up to a bus stop. Dad told me to open the door and get out. Get out if I wanted. I saw people getting on and off the bus, something until the moment I thought I could do with ease. I sat there, snot running down my face and hit with the reality that I probably was a little too young to be on my own. As I contemplated the decision in front of me, a police officer approached my dad's window. He asked what we were doing in that area that late. I'm sure he saw my red face, eyes puffy with tears as my dad explained that we were having bonding time. The officer said we should probably head home, it wasn't a good idea to be in that part of town. So the car turned around and I don't think that I had ever felt so much relief in my young life.
The truth is, as I joked about with my mother and sisters just yesterday, I am a free bird. My little wings can not be pinned down and the thought of being flightless has always been my number one fear. I may have never gotten that barbie jeep but my parents gave me so many other pathways to freedom as I grew up. They believed in my ability to make of my life whatever I wanted. Even at the age of twelve, they showed me the door and told me to walk through it, knowing with a confidence that only parents have, that I wouldn't until I was good and ready.