Once, when I was younger than eight (sorry I can’t be more specific), I got royally ticked at my parents. I decided I was going to break out, make it on my own.
I had the presence of mind to realize I should bring some food with me. However, I was so angry that I thought to my little self, “forget food. You just need to get out of here!”
My little feet marched themselves out of the backyard, out of the front yard, past the boundaries of our house and past the neighbor’s house. I was officially further than I was allowed to roam. This was no-man’s land – a mire of terrible-things-could-happen and you-could-get-hit-by-a-car. I wasn’t too worried, though. I knew to avoid guys in vans.
Wee Rae made it past three more houses, traversing the looming obstacles of cracked sidewalk and a barking dog in one backyard. I made it all the way to The Corner – the place where our sleepy street met a main road. Cars whizzed by. No one noticed me. I was truly on my own.
Then I realized that I had no idea where to go next. The Corner was the end of all known reference points. If I moved any further than that, all bets were off. All normal rules of operation ceased to apply. The leaving behind of food suddenly seemed really stupid. Was there a nice neighbor on the next street who might feed me? I had no idea. It was a huge gamble, especially with PB&J waiting for me on this street.
I turned around and walked back. Because I could.
Interesting how, now, I have adult versions of that desire to turn around and go back. I know I’m not the only one. Most of my friends in this foreign land are always searching for a way to get “home.” The land beyond The Corner is, in many ways, just as scary as imagined.
Of course, going “home” means different things as adults. But the basics are the same – things that are familiar, things that are dependable, things that you know will make you glad. Safety. It’s bracing how valuable safety really is. Most of us didn’t realize it until we didn’t have it anymore.
Some of our friends are moving to the north. We said our last goodbyes this week. They’re from (roughly) where we’re from, and knowing them has been a little bit of a port in the storm. They’re “our people,” safe people. The emotion I’m feeling as they go is unexpected. It’s a mix of jealousy and something else.
I’m jealous because I envy them their return “home.” I would love to be near my family and for both me and Hubs to be among people who have the same dry wit as us. The lack of it in any public setting kind of sucks the life out of us.
I’m something else because that’s the seven-year-old route. Even though I want to do it, too, we’re not. The World never gets any bigger if we don’t keep moving beyond our Corners. I guess it’s pride? Validation? A way to get over the jealousy? I don’t know.
But all this made me think of that story. I remember how freaked out I was because I still get the same kind of freaked out. The world is a big place, full of adventure, but also a lot of unknowns. I guess that’s how I define being a “grown up:” as someone who uses The Corner as a mile-marker instead of a turnaround.