"Hey, close your eyes while I put something delicious on your sandwich."
"What are you gonna put on my sandwich? You're gonna put something gross on it."
"Noo! I'm gonna put strawberries on it!"
"Where did you get strawberries?"
"We just had them."
"Are you tricking me?
"Noo! Close your eyes!"
"I'm putting strawberries on it!"
I squeezed mustard onto her half-eaten PBJ. Her eyes were still closed. She accepted the delivery innocently. Took a bite.
"GROSS!!! This isn't strawberries! I knew you were lying!"
"I wasn't lying! I was joking. But you believed me!"
Glorious was the day when I got my Sister to believe me. I had so many glorious days as a child, thanks to my big Sister, who pretty much always gave me a second chance. She didn't know it at the time, but she was giving me an object lesson on the meaning of 'grace'. Usually I walked all over it. And enjoyed it. Did my parents ever wonder what in the world they were going to do with me?
My siblings and I had a happy childhood as long as we had one another ... and Fiddler on the Roof ... and West Side Story ... and The Chronicles of Narnia. Because of this, I'm really not certain what started the fascination with running away. If I may say so, I think we felt so safe and comfortable at home, we assumed we were untouchable, and the rest of the world must be just as safe. It was time for that world to be conquered.
Once we had our Fisher Price First Aid Kit in hand, we were golden.
We were smart enough to venture out well-equipped, even then. [I just want to say a huge "THANK YOU" to whomever scored us this gem. You were amazing.]
Well, one evening at dusk we ventured out with this kit and our favorite blankets. I like to remember that we were wearing them tied around our necks like capes. We wandered about 3 blocks through our Scotland neighborhood. [Disclaimer: our parents were very attentive, it's just that we plotted our escape like the little military brats we were. We knew every creak in the flooring, and just what moments to open doors to escape unnoticed. Really, we should've been recruited by some secret agency. Also Scotland was very safe.]
After 3 blocks, some neighbor/acquaintance noticed two strange girls wandering too late at night in pjs, and she apprehended us. We were briskly escorted home by this determined saboteur and returned to the front door and our clearly confused and surprised Mama. I remember this moment so vividly because I didn't and still don't understand what I did next. I started crying and I fell on the ground and held onto my Mama's ankle and kept saying I was sorry, so sorry. Although the motivations of children can always be suspect, I know that I meant it, although I never felt it until that moment when I saw the look on my mom's face at the sight of her fugitive daughters.
Did we make our beautiful parents look threatening? Did we make them feel unwanted? Did we imply that we had some reason to escape? No truth in any of that. We ran because we had a home base that gave us such confidence we would carry it with us everywhere. There no getting lost or escaping. There was only Home base that we'd always find again.
Years later, we'd run again. She'd be gone in the Black Forest of Germany. I'd be alone in the shadowy forest of thoughts -- how to make sense of life without her? Then later, I'd run to the flat lands of Texas. Home base traveled, but never changed. We could only run properly and keep our feet on course because of the homing beacon within -- there is always a Place and a People to whom we Belong, thank God.
Home is with her. It's with the brother who used to let us dress him up as the baby in our reenactment of family sitcoms. Home is with the parents who taught us about life and love and grace by giving us to each other, and giving each other themselves.
I miss them.