Most of the day has escaped from my mind the way change gradually bounces out of your pockets over time. But the who and the what always trump the why and the when, when memories, like post-it notes, lose their ability to stick and eventually tumble away.
We were seven, Jamie and I, when we decided to run away. It is a mystery what exactly drove this idea into our Disney infested minds back then but I am sure it was something as insignificant as one of our moms telling us we could not have an ice cream bar before a home cooked dinner or that we were not allowed to have a slumber party for the fourth night in a row.
Our minds were set. We were going to pack up our belongings and flee. Two child pioneers setting off for an adventure. Leaving Mrs. Weiner and the second grade class to learn grammar and cursive on their own.
We sat, Indian style, on the plush white carpet of my childhood room. Our tangled yellow hair and matching smirks of trouble made us feel as if we were the leads in our very own Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen detective movie–back when they were also innocent.
We spoke, briefly, about what to fill our two barney-colored glittery backpacks with. Just the essentials, we agreed. A Barbie and her Ken. Chinese jump ropes and comic books. A snack pack and a string cheese.
We opened the front door of my house. Took a deep breathe and marched away.
We managed to get exactly 8 houses down when we decided to rest our Keds underneath a giant banyan tree. We began to sort through our belongings. Already hungry, the string cheese and the snack packs, that were supposed to last us for…for…for however long this stint would last, were instantly devoured! As we wiped our mouths we glanced up to see my mom’s white car roll up beside our resting place.
I remember sitting in the back seat of the car. Seat belts strapped us in and left us feeling like prisoners in handcuffs. I looked outside the window at luscious green shrubbery and birds wallowing around in their freedom.
I bring this up to Jamie every once in a while to spark a good laugh and to remind us both of the carefree and adventurous spirits we used to wear so proudly on top of our school uniforms. If you ask us now, what we would fill those backpacks up with, we would give you a list of intangible things. Of misplaced innocence, of people whose hands we wish would brush against our fingertips again, of fundamental feelings that have become diluted over the years.
Of days when we believed we could fight the world off with a snack pack and a sack of marbles.