Running Away

Highway by More Altitude

 

Have you ever been behind the wheel of your car, perhaps stuck in traffic or on your way to an unpleasant, maybe somewhat tedious appointment and thought, “I wonder what would happen if I just kept driving…?”  In my mind, I envision rolling down the window, tossing out things like responsibility and sanity and then watching in my rear view mirror as they bounce several times on the pavement before settling in with the rest of the roadside debris.  My exit comes…and in a flash of impetuosity and rebellion, I refuse to acknowledge it.  Instead, I break free from the daily routine and drive off into the unknown.

There are miles and miles of open road calling to me.  Golden wheat fields waving, purple mountains majesty…coastal highways, desert highways…country roads…no, wait…those have a tendency to take you home.  And thanks to my state of the art CD player and amazing sound system, the experience can be accompanied by the perfect soundtrack.  I even have a CD that I burned solely for the purpose of having happy driving music.  It’s labeled “Happy Driving Music.”

Hub Mood Music

The fantasy unfolds in my mind, a montage of scenic moments accompanied by this upbeat soundtrack…sort of like a never-ending car commercial. The destiny isn’t important, just the trip itself. I might end up near the Arctic Circle, perhaps a backwater town in the middle of Nowhere, U.S.A. or deep in the heart of the Amazonian rain forest. I will drive until I run out of money…and only then will I stop long enough to find a job to make just enough money so I can keep going. It worked for that guy with the dog named Boo…why not me?

And then…just as I hit fantasy cruising speed with the top down on the convertible, alternately extracting wind-tossed hair from my mouth or attempting to tuck it behind my ear as it whips across my field of vision…the reality police show up. With lights flashing, the highway patrol car quickly closes the distance, reinforcing the futility of trying to outrun my responsibilities. Pulling over, I sit with my marriage license, house mortgage and current car payment in my lap waiting for the officer to swagger over and ask the inevitable question…

“Ma’am, do you know how FAR you were going?”

Defeated, I answer truthfully. “No, sir…I don’t.”

 

Photo by Spotty 333
Photo by Spotty 333

 

There’s no ticket…not this time.  Instead, I sit through a soul-numbing lecture on proper adult behavior that is designed to snuff out the flame of rebellion once and for all.  My attitude is remorseful as I find myself reluctantly agreeing to the rational arguments. 

“I guess it was rather irresponsible of me, tossing my personal, professional and financial burdens out the window to clutter our nation’s roadways and yes, sir, I can only imagine the mess it would make of our lovely planet if everyone started doing just that.  Of course, I understand that this is for my own good.  At my age, health and dental benefits, not to mention accrued vacation time shouldn’t be taken so lightly.  I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to seem ungrateful.  I know I’m fortunate to still have a job, a home and a family that loves me.  Thank you for reminding me.”

Wistfully, I look to the horizon and the vanishing point of the highway before me…perhaps another time.  For now, I make a mental U-turn and head back home.

 

I just can’t help it.  It’s in my blood.  Although my genetic heritage has been homogenized to a point where I can’t really call myself anything but American, the roots of my nomadic ancestors still run deep.            

My first bid for freedom came at the age of two.  My family was stationed at the time in Biloxi, Mississippi and preparing for my father’s next assignment which entailed traveling north to the lovely and exotic destination of Newburgh, New York.  My mother, being the forward thinking parent that she was, decided it would be a great idea to take advantage of the advance notice and began teaching her children the information that she believed to be pertinent.  Each and every day, as my mother cooked, cleaned and did laundry, she would take a few moments to review with us the following:

“What’s your name?”

“My name is Laurie!”

“And where are you from?

“Newburgh, New York!”

“Very good!  Your grandmother is going to be so proud of you when we see her!  Do you remember where your grandmother lives?”

“New Jersey!!!”

My mother would clap her hands together and smile at me as I did my little Snoopy dance of joy.  Two years old and I was already a budding genius at regurgitating information.

 

On the day of my emancipation, I was playing in the backyard with my younger sister under the watchful eye of our mother.  As she was often prone to doing at the time, my adorable sibling “made a stinky” in her diaper and without hesitation, my mother scooped her up and brought her into the house for a quick change after reminding me that I was to stay in the back yard.  That was all the time I needed…

When my mother returned, I was long gone.  Judging by pictures of myself at that age, I must have been a lot faster on those chubby little legs than I looked.  Search parties were gathered and the neighborhood was combed...all in vain.  They must have severely underestimated my abilities because while they were searching back yards and bushes, I’d managed to cross two major freeways. 

As luck would have it, a nice couple was driving by and spied me toddling down the highway, obviously looking to hitch a ride.  They pulled over…and since this was a nicer, gentler period of Americana, they actually had my best interest at heart.  The woman bent over and scooped me up.  “What’s your name little girl?” she asked me. 

Dutifully I responded, “My name is Laurie!”

“Ahh,” she replied with an approving smile on her face and even though she didn’t clap her hands the way my mother did, I knew that I’d given the correct response.   

“And…do you know where you are from, Laurie?” she inquired further.

“I’m from Newburgh, New York!” I cheerfully volunteered.

Instead of the expected approval, the couple furrowed their collective brows in puzzlement and frowned.  Hmm…this wasn’t going well.  Had I gotten the answer wrong?  I was pretty sure I’d gotten it right…but perhaps I could make them happy again with a little clarification.

“I’m going to New Jersey to visit my grandmother,” I blurted out. 

Sorta makes Bugs Bunny’s issue with the wrong turn at Albuquerque look rather uncomplicated, huh?

 

Deciding that I’d left them no choice but to find my home, the couple began to bundle me into their car with the intention of taking me to the nearest radio station.  However, before I could make my broadcasting debut, a neighbor happened to be driving by and recognized me.  To this day, I’m bitterly disappointed that my career in entertainment was cut short by fate.  I’m sure it would have been an interesting radio program… 

Well, after such a busy day trekking around the countryside and meeting interesting people, I arrived back home completely famished.  My mother has always been fond of remembering that moment when I came through the front door in the arms of our neighbor, kissed her on the cheek and asked, “What’s for dinner?”  Evidently, what worked for my father didn’t set well coming from a two year old runaway toddler.  I’ve been informed that I neither had dinner nor sat down comfortably for a very long while.

I truly have no memory of this event, but I’ve enjoyed it vicariously through the stories that my mother has told me.  There are times when I wonder where I was going on that day or why I had even thought to begin such a daunting journey.  The only answer I can come up with is that even then the open road called to me and I simply couldn’t resist it.

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Comments 48 comments

Ron 5 years ago

Nice information! Simple and clear!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

Sharrie: Me too! Grab your warpaints woman...let's go! I never mind company on an adventure...the more the merrier! Thanks for dropping in and leaving such a nice compliment.


sharrie69 profile image

sharrie69 7 years ago from Trinidad (an island in the Caribbean)

This was just wonderful! I'm prone to ditching the grind every now and then and usually find I wind up taking a long drive (on our small island long is 2 hours!) down to the beach to soak my toes in the ocean. If someone only made the mistake to hand me a plane ticket I'd be gone in a flash..love adventure!


rowanelayna profile image

rowanelayna 7 years ago from York, PA

Things are going alright. Matt got a promotion, so we're maintaining. : )

Cecilia's wonderful! Her birthday party is tomorrow and she turns 1 Monday. Can't believe it's already been a year.


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

Hey Row....I was just thinking about you today and wondering how you and yours were doing with all the economic mayhem. How's Cecilia doing?


rowanelayna profile image

rowanelayna 7 years ago from York, PA

I've been waiting patiently for a new hub....until now!!!! Write something! I'm bored to tears and need some excitement in my life!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

Hi Di!

*HUGS*

I must have missed your comment several days ago *hangs head in shame* but I found it now! Yeah...I kinda snuck this one in past a lot of people.

There are a couple of hubs on my "to read" list as well...trying not to be a complete stranger :) Speaking of which....I better go and check them out right now!

:))


dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina

glad you showed up on Chris' hub and inspired me to click here and there to see what you have been up to - I missed this one when you publihed it, and miss seeing you around here! Happy gamin'!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

LOL! :)


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

I am a happy wander-er among the leaves so green....my knapsack on my back...oh yes!! the wander-ers have an important place in our society, I wonder about their urgent need for new....it seems a burning desire for some. and it's a vital artery...in the heart of life.

I'm glad you're not running away...!!! but I detect just a spark of it in you...stay away from open windows. =))


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

nice hub,.....i have enjoyed reading it...


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

LOL Marisue :) If this is ever a movie...and the part needs to be cast...can I put you in as role of the "Reality Police?"

I wasn't thinking of running away when I wrote this piece...but remembering that particular time when I did run away...and thought my nomadic urges would be a perfect fit for the runaway baby part.

I'd say your advice is good...but I'm still thankful that there were some in history that didn't heed it. Society still needs it's dreamers, willing to turn their back on the known and wander off into the distance, searching for whatever is around the next corner. Home may be the only place some will know...or the place where most return when they've done their adventuring...but for others, home is a very, very big place and their "family and friends" fill an entire planet.

:)


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 7 years ago from USA

ahhh  you are an onery soul, the road calls to many of us, but we live within the boundaries of daily duty, heart-felt responsibilities, and dependency.  A nomad pays a high price for adventure, that one day leads back to the same thing they left.  There is no higher road, no bigger adventure, no mystery more understood or questioned, than that of fulfillment of committment and relationships with loved ones, ones not so loved, and those who need to be loved in spite of themselves.

Stay put, dream away, but I'm sure you are needed by many, appreciated by all, and wanted right where you are. 

The road ahead, is the same as the road behind. =)) I know, cuz I've been there a few times.


britneydavidson profile image

britneydavidson 7 years ago from united kingdom

nice hub,.....i have enjoyed reading it...


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

LOL! That's pretty darn close! :)


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

That's hilarious!! We watched a show the other night, I think it was 100 most outrageous home videos, where a little bitty kid was in a barn. One of the animals did something that scared her, she tumbled backwards and fell butt-first into some kind of wooden box and she litterally folded in half with only her head and her little boots sticking out the top. It was so funny.

That's the image I have of you getting in your car!!!!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

A 2009 Doge Laredo Super Cab Dually....it's too big for the garage and hangs over the sidewalk when in the driveway. We make a very odd couple now. At 5'7 1/2", my husband is a shorty getting into a BIG truck and at 5'10" I'm a tall woman folding myself up to get into my Miata. :)

When I told my husband I just didn't understand this truck fetish...he said it was the closest he could get to driving a big rig. LOL!


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

So my curiosity is getting to me. What kind of BIG truck did he get?!?!!??


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

Hey you two! Sorry I didn't make it on last night Gwendy. Husband bought a new truck....a very BIG new truck....with lots of toys and you know how men are when it comes to their new shinies :)


gwendymom profile image

gwendymom 7 years ago from Oklahoma

see ya PM, have a good night and enjoy your book and your daughters company.


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Between the two of you, it'd be a grand party, but my daughter and I are reading Where the Red Fern Grows together before she goes to bed everynight, so I must be off.

Have fun....but not too much! :-)))


gwendymom profile image

gwendymom 7 years ago from Oklahoma

PM, it really is isn't it. I think we need to bombard Spryte until she gets her butt on here and joins in on some fun!


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Gwendymom, I've told your story of your daughter and neices running away with the pack of diapers several times. Real life is funnier than anything we could imagine, huh?


gwendymom profile image

gwendymom 7 years ago from Oklahoma

Spryte, you have to get on here tonight. Christoph is on, Benson is having a birthday party and I think shades might get on. It would be great if were on too. I miss the old crowd.


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

Gmom: OMG!! I love that mental image of the three of them heading out for the great unknown with a pack of diaper supplies! That really made me laugh and I thank you for that. :) Where did you go for the weekend? And I MISS YOU TOO!!! *big hugs*

Sixty: I love to travel too and I get antsy after about 4 months to see new places and discover new things. I often think I would have been a good travel photographer or critic...or anything that would allow me to indulge my need to explore. And then...I'm always glad to come home again because...well I can have coffee whenever I want and it's MY coffee damnit! :)


gwendymom profile image

gwendymom 7 years ago from Oklahoma

Spryte I love this story, I too have thought about running away many many times, I threaten my family with it alot but they quit believing me long ago. I did get to run away for the weekend though and that's why I am just now getting to read this.

My two daughters and my niece tried to run one time, and your story reminded me of it. They were two and three, and three at the time, we lived in the colorado country side and we had about a 1/4 mile driveway. It was a warm summer day and they took off all their clothes except for diapers. I think I must have been in the bathroom, I was prenant with my youngest and was probably having some morning sickness and when I went to see what the kids were up to I could not find them, I looked outside and saw the three of them walking down the driveway, the dog following behind and my youngest daughter dragging a pack of diapers. I don't know if I have ever laughed so hard as I did at that moment. I can imagine the whole converasation in my head between these three tots. The oldest saying hey, mom isn't watching heres our chance to make a break for it it, my niece agreeing and my yougest saying ok, I'll go but we have to take some precautions, I'll get the pampers. I'm sure the dog was just curious. The funny part is when my youngest did have a dirty diaper she would say hey mom, I'm shitty. She still has that kind of attitude.

Thanks for reminding me of that story. Glad to see you back, I have missed you terribly!!!


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 7 years ago from South Africa

Spryte Welcome back. perhaps your story tells a story which tells a story which tells a story. I too am a little drained (I was going to say bored but Im not actually bored - perhaps unfulfilled) and would like to take off into the wild blue yonder. It is now nearly four months since I last travelled and perhaps that is the problem - itchy feet. Your hub kind of expressed in words how I, too, feel at the moment. And I guess James Bond did not really help either.

Great easy writiing as usual. I enjoyed it particularly the bits about the liitle single minded Spryte tyke doing her own thing!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

LOL! Hi back! :)


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

I just wanted to say hi. So...Hi!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

MM: Oh I haven't truly been gone :) Just lurking (that's a good word for it). I'm still reading other people's stuff, commenting when I have a moment and contemplating things that I should be writing. I have about four or five pieces in progress, but the muse seems to have a short attention span these days and when I get near the end, she goes off wandering in search of some new adventure. I know better than to force her...she's even more stubborn than I am.

Proud Mom: Has anyone been able to figure out exactly what Johnny Depp has that makes him so appealing to women?? I swear, the older he gets...and the more eccentric the characters he plays...the hotter he seems.

Amy: Love your pic (assuming that's you)! What an awesome shot. You seem like the adventurous sort so your spontaneous journey doesn't surprise me in the least! Btw...how far did you get on 23 gallons of gas? :)


Amy G 7 years ago

Love the story! I've actually driven off before, on my way to the store or something... It got me a speeding ticket, which delayed me long enough to pick up my daughter late from school, which aggravated the principal and spawned three million questions as to her mother's whereabouts. Her answers must have been colorful, because there was a "meeting" waiting for me when I finally made it back there. Was it worth the hours of driving and 23 gallons of gas? Hell yes.

Thanks - I needed a reminder to do that again soon!


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Oh! They weren't REAL chickens. My grandma would have had my head!! We imagined once that chickens were aboard, although for the life of me I don't know why!!

Johnny Depp does hold a soft spot in just about anything he plays, doesn't he?


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Hi Spryte! So glad to see you back on HP. I can only imagine the stories your parents must tell about their headstrong, wayward daughter:-). It is a shame about your radio career, tho! Great read. Cheers. MM


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

Golden:  Thank you for coming back just to leave a comment and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Proud Mom:  Chickens?!  :)  Sounds a lot like my sisters and me.  We used to turn our beds into a spaceship...but my mother wouldn't allow chickens in the house so we were sans crew.  I'm partial to the original Willy Wonka too...but I have a soft spot for Johnny Depp's portrayal of him as well (just not as keen on the rest of the story).  Oompa Loompas ftw!

Akeejaho: I'm guessing you were stuck on a long road trip? :)


akeejaho profile image

akeejaho 7 years ago from Some where in this beautiful world!

Real fun read! I like the imagination! Great way to travel to whereever! (Wish I had thought of that a few weeks ago!)


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Indeed he was. But I liked the original Willy Wonka better than the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Nostalgia, I guess.

We also would use my grandparent's lawn furniture (of which there was an abundance) and build a ship. All the neighbor kids would come over and play different scenarios, but Johhny next door always got to be the captain. I'm not sure what strory of character that emerged from, but I don't remember picnic tables and lawn chairs on grandpa's emarald green lawn. I still see a majestic vessel floating on the bluest sea you have ever seen......Once, we even had chickens aboard. Go figure!


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

Very enjoyable read. I read it last night but didn't have the time to comment, but I like the way you flow.


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

Proud Mom:

Awww what a lovely compliment! Thank you! I'm betting that Willie Wonka is one of your favorite characters too! :) Personally, I'd rather see or imagine beauty in the world than accept ugliness any day and it's nice to meet a kindred spirit in that regard! I'm so glad you dropped by :)


Proud Mom profile image

Proud Mom 7 years ago from USA

Oh what a beautiful story! I can connect with your ability to unlock your mind and be somewhere you really want to be. The sunken sidewalks at my childhood home really did have chocolate flowing through them, and the peachcot tree really did have buds of chocolate that crunched when you took a bite. I still can't see irrigation ditches and fallen fruit rotting on the ground below.

You're officially one of my favorite writers!!


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

Teresa:

Now that would be a great idea for a hub too...the personalities we give our cars!

My parents were stationed in Yokohama before I wsa born and my mother would tell me wonderful stories of her daily wanderings, so it must be the thing to do when in Japan. :) I can relate to your "we don't know where we are" vs lost comment. Mine is..."we aren't lost! We're temporarily displaced." Yeah...it annoyed people as well, lol!

Thanks for dropping in and sharing some great memories!


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

Great hub. Yeah -- I sometimes think my car has a sixth sense about which corner to turn, and off I go into the unacustomed or the unknown. But then I realize it's a habit I picked up in Japan, where there are no street signs, and where any signs that did exist were impossible to decipher. Sometimes, to get home again, I'd follow a bus that was going to the station (I knew the kanji for that). A comment that infuriated my mother the most, I think, was when I said "We're not lost; we just don't know where we are." Oh, she was annoyed.


spryte profile image

spryte 7 years ago from Arizona, USA Author

I just had a sneaking hunch that I wasn't the only one with the vivid imagination around here and judging from these responses, I can see I was right :)

AE: I never thought of them as mini trips...but that is a perfect term for it! Thanks!

Cris: Hmm...I think that's the crux of it all. That urge to find something new in life waiting just around the corner if we'd only take the time to look.

Christoph: I've always thought that it would have been great fun to be your childhood friend. I still do. There's just something about your capacity to believe in magic and imagination that has always touched a kindred chord in my own soul. Happy Valentine's Day to you as well :)

Misty!! Are you already on that trip that I wish I could be on with you?!! I'm still wallowing in envy and I hope you are having a blast and soaking up all of the adventure. Big hugs to you lady!

Anna Marie: There are times when I wonder if my father's career in the Air Force and all the moving that it entailed contributed to my nomadic urges...or whether he chose the lifestyle because of his own personality make-up and I'm just sharing that genetic trait. Either way...I was PISSEd when he retired and I could no longer move every couple of years or so. :) Thanks for dropping in!

KCC - I LOVE that idea and immediately began taking inventory of the most frustrating qualities in my nieces and nephews. What a great outlook! I'm adding that to my list of favorite personal observations. :) Thanks!


KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

Great story Spryte! I have this image of you trotting away with a look of determination. I've seen kids like that. LOL I have always said, and I still maintain it's true, that the things we find the most frustrating in our kids will someday be the trait we're most proud of them for. Things such as questioning authority, that stroke of independence, etc. Well done, Spryte!


Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

Great story, Spryte!! I have often felt like just taking off, seeing where the road takes me. I guess that's why I move so often.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Such a great hub Spryte. I have been reading it out to my Step Dad in the hotel room we are sharing in Santiago (separate beds of course). Even he was laughing out loud and loved it, so well done! Nice to have you back at last :)


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

Hi spryte! I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes I just want to chuck it all and see how far a tank of gas will get be. Where would I go? I don't know. Maybe I'll take a left and maybe I'll take a right.

You still have you inimitable style: breezy, graceful, and charming, and always drawing me in wanting to share your world. So good to read your story. Happy valentines day to you!


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

This is a great story Spryte. I can relate to that "itch" to be nomadic, and free and careless and to not think of what will happen next. I think it's a search for something which we don't exactly kow but we will ultimately when we find it. Life is exacting that way! Thanks for sharing :D


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I love taking mini trips in my mind and seem to think would of, could of , didn't but what the heck isn't it great to have an imagination. I enjoyed the article and it took me away for awhile, it enlightened me and also made me laugh!!:)

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