AUDIO VERSION: (Transcript below for those who prefer to read instead)
I remember the day that I decided to run away from home. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old or so.
My little doll suitcase (meant for doll clothing) was packed with a couple of pairs of socks, under panties and a t-shirt. I guess I was thinking that I’d be able to wear the same shorts forever but, not my underwear and might need a change of t-shirts. I hadn’t thought about the Winter but, that’s as far as my thinking went back then. Besides, that’s all that I could fit into the tiny cloth covered, cardboard box with a handle anyway. I had debated about taking my dolls with me and all of their clothes but, I knew that there was no way that I could carry it all. So, out came my favourite baby doll and the outfit I had on her.
I walked through the kitchen, little suitcase in one hand, a big doll tucked under the other arm. My dad sat with a cup of coffee beside him on the table and puffed on a cigarette in one hand.
“Where are you going?” he asked, nonchalantly.
“I’m running away,” I answered him with a stiff upper lip as though no one was going to stop me from my determined action though I had no clue where it was that I was going.
My dad drew a puff of his cigarette, flicking off the burned ashes into the ashtray beside him on the table and taking a sip of his coffee.
“Ok,” he said with not even a whiff of the upset or anger that I thought he’d have nor, the objection to such a move. I began inching towards the door, wondering why this was all going so easily.
“Not so fast,” my dad said, sitting with one leg crossed over the other and staring out the kitchen window, not looking at me.
“Ah-Ha!” I thought smug within myself. “He’s going to stop me! I knew he would!”
“Don’t worry,” my dad reassured me. “You can leave BUT, you can’t take that suitcase or that doll with you.”
Stunned, I stopped to ponder why he was saying that. After all, she was my doll and that suitcase was mine.
“You can go but, your mother and I bought you that doll and that suitcase,” he answered, taking another sip of his coffee.
“FINE!” I answered angrily and taking the doll and suitcase back to my room. To this day, I don’t know why I was so tidy but, I guess it was trained into me by my mother. I came back out without the suitcase and doll but the underwear and t-shirt I had packed under my arm. I figured that I’d simply travel lighter but, would miss my doll. That was ok though. I was leaving and that was that.
“Uh…wait,” my dad said. “Stop right there. Who bought you your t-shirt and underwear?”
“You and Mom did,” I answered, now a bit bewildered as to where he was going with this one.
“Ok, so those belong to us too. Take them back,” my father stated, stubbing out his cigarette butt.
Back I went, putting my t-shirt and underwear away in the drawers before I stomped out of my room, this time, determined to leave and not be stopped. I had nothing but the clothes on my back and little runners on my feet so, there was nothing I was taking with me.
I made it to the door, opened it and went to step out before my dad stopped me yet again.
“I’m leaving,” I said to my dad, arms crossed, pout on my face. “I have nothing with me…see!” I raised my arms for my dad to see that I had nothing with me this time. He couldn’t possibly stop me at this point.
“Oh, you can leave,” my dad said quite matter of factly and as though he didn’t really care, “but, you cannot take anything with you that your mother and I bought for you.”
I stood there, stunned, looking at him. I had nothing that I was taking with me. What was he stopping me for now?
“I don’t have anything with me,” I shouted.
“Yes, you do,” my dad answered. “I said that you can leave but, you cannot take anything with you that your mother and I bought for you.”
He turned his head and I could see his expression change, waiting while I figured it out.
All of a sudden it hit me.
“But…but….but….” I stammered, “I’ll be bare NAKED!”
My dad got up from his chair and went into the bathroom which was beside the kitchen in our tiny bungalow where I heard him laugh heartily.
Were I to have been braver, I would have stripped at the front door and gone anyway but, I wasn’t that courageous. Besides, it was raining outside.
When I think back on that day, I think about my dad’s words and how cleverly he’d engineered that entire scenario. It’s now that I wish that I had have thought of that when my own adult estranged child decided that she was going to leave to go live with her pot-headed, drug infested boyfriend. I only wish that I had have been as clever as my dad was that day to tell her to leave behind anything that her dad and I had bought for her. Not only would she only have left with a couple of tops and pairs of pants that she had bought for herself but, there would have been a brand new car in our driveway, still in my name and nothing else.
From my little corner of life to yours, I miss my dad. He had the mind of a genius at certain times and I wish that had his courage in how he played a lot of things out throughout his life and mine. I wish that I were half the woman that he was a man and father. I’d still have my daughter at home with me…and a new car.
Be well. Love and Light.
Have a great day or evening.