Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Day I Ran Away

I don't remember the fight, but I do know it had something to do with being allowed to go to Duncan on the bus, by myself, to buy some fabric for a dress.

I had fallen in love with the warm colour combination of yellow/orange/brown, something my mother didn't understand at all. I had a shirtwaist dress in those colours, and it warmed the cockles of my heart. After a long struggle, I had received permission to have my room painted light yellow, and I had found fabric for curtains that worked, and a bedspread. However, on a family shopping trip to Duncan (about 15 miles away), I had seen fabric in "my" colours, in a patchwork print. I wanted a yard of it to make a dress. Permission denied. I didn't have a tantrum, I just sulked and plotted.

(Yes, Dearly Beloved, in those days I could make a shift out of a yard of fabric.)

I decided that I would leave home. I pocketed all my cash, packed a small suitcase, and hit the road. I didn't really have a plan, but that fabric drew me like a magnet. It was quite a long walk to the highway, and an even longer one to Duncan. People kept stopping and asking me if I would like a ride, but I was too scared of strangers to accept. I walked the whole way, with my suitcase, in my brown suede shoes that were already too small, and my yellow/orange/brown print dress. The dry goods store was another mile or so from the highway, once I got there. All in all, I walked close to twenty miles. I went straight to the shop, bought a yard of the fabric (all of 69¢) and wondered, "What now?" I went to the cafe where we usually ate when shopping in Duncan, and had a hamburger and a coke while I took stock. I had just enough money to take the bus home, or rent a room for the night. I realized that, if I did the latter, I'd face the morning, broke, in a city where I had no one I could trust to shield me from parental ire. Fortified by the tiny triumph of that yard of fabric, I decided to go home.

That walk to the bus station was very long. I was very tired (did I mention that I was 14?).

As the bus stopped outside my home, Mom came running out, in tears. They not only let me come home, they seemed to have been genuinely worried. I had never thought they would be. I thought they would be angry that I defied them.

In time, things settled down, back to normal. I made the shift, and wore it with the brown and orange belt from the shirtwaist dress.

At school, I got many compliments on the dress, from students and teachers alike. It was awesome!

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