I am reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg right now about a girl, Claudia, who runs away with her little brother to the Metropolitan Museum of Art so her parents and siblings will appreciate her more. She has to give up her hot fudge sundae addiction to save money for her adventure, and that is a huge sacrifice. I can especially relate to Claudia.
I was always running away as a kid. Never to anywhere exotic as I lived in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, WISCONSIN. I mean, really. We lived in the country. Not in town. Bordering our land was VanDyk’s corn field (sometimes they grew soybeans) on one end, a swamp to the south, a gravel, dead end road that connected with our driveway and out to the road, and a tall grass field that was the upper part of the hill beside our house, which was on our land too, but it was uncomfortable to walk on as it was full of ruts and gopher holes. The neighbors along the gravel road all lived in converted cabins, with an embankment as their collective back yards that lead down to the Willow River.Their houses were tiny, and sherbert colored. Lime and orange. I loved our neighbors tiny houses that were lime and orange.
I mostly ran away to 1) get attention and appreciation, and 2) to get away from my brother and sister, while getting attention from them. They are six and seven years older than me, so whatever they wanted to watch on TV, they got to watch. We had one TV. I am sure my siblings would tell you, as the youngest, I got everything I wanted. But, I remember it a little differently. In the pecking order of sibling TV privilege, I was at the bottom. Especially in the summer when our mother was at work as a telephone operator. No mom. No Electric Company. But I knew how to use the phone. Since, my mom was an operator in a very small town, you know, the old fashioned kind who could patch you through to someone else and call the fire department (pre 911), all I had to was dial zero and rat them out.
I ran away to the top section of our land a lot in the summer. Mostly to try and make my siblings feel guilty for not letting me have my way. To my knowledge,they never felt one ounce of guilt. I would hide in behind the railroad ties that were just sitting there for some reason with the tall grass just growing up around them…camoflaging them from view. My dad never mowed up there as the ground was full of gopher holes and ruts and such (see above). You couldn’t even see the railroad ties unless you were right on top of them. They were the perfect roofless fort. Until my brother built a fort out of wood with a roof. Then, if he was off riding mini bikes with John Schmidt, or jumping off barns with some hooligan Volkert kid, I would sneak into his fort and make myself at home. The magical world of my pre-teen siblings was mine for a bit, until it got too hot, or something.
One thing we never had a lot of, were snacks. Which, if you knew my mom, you would think that was weird. We had grapes and apples, which were fine if you weren’t traveling into the outback, behind the railroad ties. What I wanted was to run away with treats! And a book, and my dollies. We had things like popcorn that had to be popped in hot oil, by someone over 4 feet, and unmade Kool-aid, and stale saltines. And, the ingredients for cookies that no one ever wanted to make in the summer. Once I thought I hit the jackpot, when I found a HUGE chocolate bar in the baking cupboard. Yep, baking chocolate. Completely bitter, and inedible. I got to the railroad tracks, took a bite and went screaming back to the house! I wasn’t very successful at running away.