I think I was about six years old when one of my brothers and I decided to run away from home.
Was this foreshadowing?
I have two brothers, and the one closest in age to me had gotten into some spat with my mom. Dad, the Lieutenant Colonel, was at the Air Base working, and I’ve no doubt that it was my brother who had misbehaved. He wasn’t taking the motherly admonishment too well. And there is always that dreaded, “Wait until your father gets home” threat.
Dad was the enforcer.
And we knew by then that you didn’t cross the line with him. Any line. One of those lines was showing my mother disrespect. In any form.
Solution? Better get the hell out of there. But where is “the hell out of there?”
Where is “Away?”
The threat of dad applied only to my brother, for the moment, but we were of the age of sticking together for impossible-to-know reasons. Our other brother, a few years older, was not bound by our invisible glue.
Where do you run when you are six and seven years old?
The wilderness, of course.
We decided we’d pack for camping and head out to the “Lake.” The place dad always took us fishing.
It was about two miles away. Not a far distance by any means, and certainly a hop, skip and jump compared to the hikes I regularly take today. But to children that age, with tiny legs, it might as well have been on the moon. That was a long distance to walk and we were planning on taking a lot of stuff. After all, we needed that stuff to “survive,” right?
The first choice was the tent. And that meant taking all of the poles that formed the frame to hold it up, tent stakes, etc. Tents weren’t simple back then.
And then we needed food. Peanut butter. The universal bait. A good choice. A loaf of bread to spread it on, of course. But we also threw in a few canned goods for good measure. Humm, that meant cooking pots. Had to sneak those out of the kitchen while mom wasn’t looking. Silverware, a couple of cups to drink from. Stuff to start a campfire. Canteens of water.
The list was growing.
How were we going to carry all of this stuff? Ah, the Radio Flyer wagon. Now we were set.
So, we haphazardly overloaded the wagon and started to head down the road. With traffic honking at us and swerving around us. There wasn’t much of a shoulder to that two-lane strip of pavement.
Little did we know, our oldest brother saw what we up to and ratted us out. We had barely gotten started on our journey when he and mom were suddenly on our trail, yelling for us to come back. And being the non-reasoning children we were, we responded by throwing pieces of our “gear” back at them.
Suddenly the tent unrolled and the peanut butter jar was rolling down the road. Our supplies were disappearing and we had barely begun the march. We were never going to make it to the Lake. That brief daydream.
We had to capitulate.
Once home, we were now both awaiting dad’s wrath.
So what drives such an impulse? The impulse to leave the trappings of society? That secure homestead? Return to Nature. Return to the Womb. Why “there?”
And why is such a notion so romanticized?
This was just the beginning. Such urges and actions returned in teenage years. I hit the road for real during my twenties, for a couple of years, after a little inducement from the law.
And now, once again, retired and under no threats, I am returning to the road. To seek out those adventures that lay at the “Lake.”
To flee authority. The modern trappings of society. The ordered chaos. The scripted existence.
Maybe we had it right all along when we were kids.
A return to portable living quarters. Campfires. Fishing. The rhythmic tintinnabulation of moving water to lull one to sleep. The stars for the night canopy. The rotation of the Sun lighting the day. Peace and quiet. Nature’s beauty. Surrounded by All My Relations. Survival with style.
Of course, I pack much better now. 🙂
Maybe we were way ahead of our time . . .
Photo: No this wasn’t the “Lake.” It’s a part of the Snake River. I was tempted to post one of our old-timey pics of me and my brothers, but too embarrassed for that – LOL !
I wish I was on the way to some “Lake” today.
I figured with all us stuck in self-quarantine that running away was a good theme for today 🙂