Friday, October 03, 2008

Oh, the Memories

I was watching Arthur tonight (don’t look at me that way) with my kids and it was an episode about when Arthur and the Gang decided to all dare each other to skip school. They were in 3rd grade in this episode I think (don’t look at me that way). As the episode went on, my inner mother voice kicked into overdrive as I started thinking about what I would do if one of my own kids ever tried something like that at that young age.

But then just as I was getting all worked up (as if they had already done it), I remembered one sunny fall afternoon when I was in 2nd grade. The catholic school I was going to at the time had very lax rules about allowing kids off school grounds while playing kickball. My best friend at that time, Mandy, and I always went off the playground down to where the street was. It was the perfect hiding spot because not only was it downhill a bit from the playground, but the fence was thickly covered with ivy so you couldn’t see through to our hiding spot.

One day as we were waiting for the perfect chance to make a run for the ball, Mandy looked at me and said “Do you want to run away with me?” I chuckled at first, and then I realized that she was serious and my chuckle turned into one of discomfort. She was my best friend. If she was going to run away, I couldn’t possibly let her do it by herself. So after a few moments of indecision I said as nonchalantly as I could, “Sure.” And off we went.

We spent the majority of the rest of the day walking to downtown Denver. Which in and of itself is not all that extraordinary except that I was 7 at the time and the distance from our school to downtown was easily over 10 miles. But the sheer thrill of what we were doing was enough to keep us going for those many miles. When we finally made it to downtown, we realized how very, very hungry we were and being 7 years old, how we had absolutely no money to speak of (except for the dime I kept in my shoe for emergency phone calls).

So we went into a White Spot (remember those? I have very fond childhood memories of them because of my dad, but that’s a whole other post), hoping that perhaps someone would take pity on us. But while I was in the bathroom, Mandy took it upon herself to liberate a couple of tables of their tip money. Just another level of danger to our afternoon.

So we hot-footed it over to McDonald’s and loaded up on fries and water. Then we cruised the 16th Street Mall, which at the time was a skateboarder haven, and walked all over downtown to all the places we had heard of and never been. I was still having a grand time when Mandy turned to me and said, “I’m ready to go home.” Honestly, I was a little disappointed. I was ready to keep this up at least until it got dark (which admittedly was only a couple of hours away). But we went to the nearest pay phone and she called her dad who came to pick us up at our chosen destination.

When her dad took us back to the school we were greeted by several police officers. Very mean, very angry police officers. Who took us back into the principal’s office giggling and let us out 30 minutes later crying for our mommies.

I remember my dad being out of town at the time and when my mom and I got home, she called him immediately to let him know I was found and ok. I was expecting yet another tongue lashing from him, but instead all he did was laugh. My mom was sobbing near uncontrollably and my dad was giggling. It was the strangest thing. I probably should have reminded him of that giggle fit when he almost disowned me 9 years later for taking off with my new driver’s license and driving for 2 days straight to Georgia.

But that’s another post.