to run away (take a vacation)

When I was 16 I ran away from home,
at least I call it that now,
but at the time I said I wasn't running away from home,
After a day full of teenage pain, angst and tears,
I left a note for my mama which stated simply,
"I am not running away.  I will be back soon.  I just need a vacation.
You know, you can just get away for the weekend, go to San Fransisco
or somewhere whenever you want,
but I can't.  And I need to.  So I'm just going to take my mini vacation,
and then I'll be home.  Don't worry.  I'll be back."
I left the note on my bed, took a back pack full of clothes, a notebook,
pens and books,
and walked out of my house at about ten o'clock at night.

I lived at the edge of town, in a little bit of suburbia,
but just beyond our housing development was a semi-country road
ten miles long, leading into another town,
the town where my friends were,
the town I was headed to.
I knew I couldn't make it walking ten miles that night,
and I was nearing the end of street lights...
the road gets very dark,
no lights,
covered by trees,
meaning no stars, no moon...
very dark.
So what is an angst-filled, heart sick, petite sixteen year old girl
to do alone, late at night?
Hitchhike, yes, of course.

Wouldn't you know I was picked up almost immediately...
by a young guy, probably about 18,
and I am pretty sure he was on something.
But it was better than that darkness...
and he took me to a payphone (yes, I said payphone)
and I called the friends who should have been waiting for me,
my heart sank when there was no answer...
three times...
and now here I was, with this guy I didn't know
(because yes, though he was young and on drugs,
he was a gentleman and he waited for me)
and I had no idea what to do...
so I decided to go home.

My new friend was so kind,
he didn't hesitate to turn around and drive back the way we had come,
and we talked about life and what I was doing and why,
and then when he turned on my street I just about had a fit.
I started yelling at him,
"turn around, turn around, turn around!"
which he did promptly and a little bit unsteadily,
for he was already driving erratically thanks to the chemicals and turning that
car quickly was not easy for him.
"sorry.  the lights were on at my house and my parent's car was gone so,
i. can't. go. home."

Back we drove, the same road,
for the third time.
This time he drove me by my friend's house but when we were pulling down the street
I was horrified at seeing my parent's car and my step dad walking
to the door.
So my driver and I sped off again,
this time I had no idea where to go,
and it was about one o'clock in the morning.

"You can stay at my house.  My parent's are asleep by now and
my little brother is spending the night at a friends.  You can have
his bed, we just need to wake up early and leave before my
parents get up."  He was such a gentleman.
And so I did.  I fell asleep, hard, in this enormous strange bed,
and it was the best sleep I have ever had to this day.
The end came too soon when he gently shook my shoulder at
seven o'clock the next morning and told me
we needed to be off.
And so we were.  And he bought me donuts for breakfast.
This stranger that picked me up hitchhiking (I wish I could remember his name)
was the greatest part of my vacation which ended a few hours later.
Ended in the police finding me at a friend's house
(because, yes, that day I eventually found my friends who were,
of course, the people the police were searching for to find me)
being taken to a group home,
then for a month stay at an aunt's house,
which all led to my first trip to the adolescent psychiatric hospital...
so I guess it was some sort of vacation after all...
I didn't go home for two months.

I'm thinking of this time when I was 16
because my eldest child is just about to turn 16
(yes, I am 28.  yes, that makes me 12 when he was born.
If you are confused, read here.)
I was raised with love but no understanding of Love,
with freedom to do what I wanted, but no one guiding me
to the One who would show me what to want.
These are the things we give our children, but, still...
so I ask him,
"Ian, do you want a vacation from us, from your family?"
He responds,
"Yes!  That would be awesome!  How about I ride my bike
to the grocery store?  I'll pick up some things we need while
I'm there."
I smile.  I am so okay with his choice of vacation.
Way better than mine.


  1. wow, you have been thru it and in it haven't you? Look forward to getting to know you even better. You sound like a great Ma yourself to a 16 year old. I have one of those myself....

  2. Oh, dear friend, I see God's hand everywhere in this protecting you in each faltering step, guiding you safely home. I mean, HOME. Stories like yours, though dark and painful, remind me that God is bigger and better than the darkness and pain. They help me be more willing to risk the uncertainty and trust that God will indeed work all things for my good and His glory. Love you.

  3. LOVE this post. You have a great story to tell, and you tell it so well. I remember wanting to run away, though I never did, and I can't imagine how hard this must all have been. Thanks for sharing your stories.

  4. Thank you for being so vulnerable in sharing. I am not much of a crier and I am to tears.

  5. I am new to your blog. I came via the imperfect prose link up.
    This was excellent. So raw. And God is so Big.
    I am looking forward to reading more. Thank you for sharing!

  6. You are such a wise woman! I love hearing how you parent with such grace and wisdom. I love how bit by bit I get to share in learning your story. Love these little glimpses

  7. wow! amazing story. your words are chosen well, they grip the reader, this life of yours, how you've lived!

  8. You have such a gift for telling stories and weaving in the only Story that really matters. I hope you are always willing to share your gift with us!

  9. i appreciate your honesty...i ran away at 16 as well...cops found me as well...did not go to the hospital, but i been there with kids since...his answer did make me smile...i like his vacay...

  10. Your heart -- His light pours forth through your words and the hope that you deliver to your readers.

  11. I'm not sure why but the word that comes to me is redemption...How he is somehow taking this interesting but painful story and making it clear and pure as water when it is poured through the heart of your son. So I'm probably babbling, but I have a picture in my head that I can't seem to word clearly. Bottom line, I really liked this. I'm so glad you trusted me with this story.

  12. Enjoyed reading this...thankful for God's hand on you at the age of 16... and how you now seek to provide answers and direction as a parent.

  13. wow. wow, wow, wow.

    these are the only words coming to mind right now.

  14. This is an amazing story! I don't think I will forget it very soon, and it sounds like there's a lot to the story that is yet untold... Thank you for teaching me through your story today.

  15. oh, amy, what God has led you through... i love this story. it is sad, and it is redemptive, and i love the gentleman-boy who drove you home and gave you a donut in the morning. he was your angel. God is good. love you sister.

  16. Your son sounds awesome! I love your tale of God's redemptive love through all your wanderings.

  17. That is one dangerous story. It all could have gone so differently. And it’s a vacation that eventually led to your son’s choice of vacation. This is all so good. Thank you for this and God bless and keep you and all of yours.