4: The Day I Ran Away from Home

4: The Day I Ran Away from Home

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

The Day I Ran Away from Home

Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need.

~Margaret Mead

I stood at the front door, looking out over the cold wet lawn. It had been a soggy couple of weeks. Overhead, the sky hung low and gray. The big oak, stripped barren, pointed crooked fingers toward the heavens as if pleading for the sun’s warmth. I echoed that sentiment. Would the sun ever shine again?

I don’t know what came over me, but in that moment, I longed to run away from home, to an exotic place filled with sunshine and sea, where no one knew my name, where the wind blew through my hair, and umbrellas were used only for shade.

Have you ever wished, even for a split second, to drive off to places unknown, alone? To a place where you don’t have to deal with the same old issues that keep turning up through the years, seemingly never to be resolved?

There was that time I actually did run away, sort of. The details went something like this.

It was late one evening. I don’t recall what it was about, but The Man and I had a very big and ugly argument. We both said things we didn’t mean and, in the end, I said, “I’m leaving,” and he said, “Good. The sooner, the better.”

I threw a few things in a small suitcase and slammed the door behind me, not having a clue where I was going. After driving in circles for several minutes, I stopped at my local grocery to pick up some personal items I’d forgotten to pack in my heated rush to get out of the house.

But before I got down the first aisle, my cell phone rang. It was my grown daughter calling. I answered the phone and she said, “Hey, Mom. Where are you?”

Instantly, I knew she knew. Something in her voice gave it away.

“Hey, sweetie. I’m out for a bit. What’s up?”

“Well, where are you?” Persistence is her middle name.

“Just out. Why?”

“Mom, Dad is worried about you.”

“How can he be worried about me? I’ve been gone a total of twenty minutes. Did he call you?” I was perturbed.

“No, he didn’t call me. I called and asked to talk to you and yes, he is really worried about you.”

“Well, he should have thought of that sooner,” I said, my anger returning, remembering all of the hateful things he’d spouted. “Listen, sweetie. I really need to get off the phone. You can tell your dad that I’m fine. I’m just fine. I love you, and I’ll call you tomorrow.”

I hung up and lingered in the store, trying to get my thoughts together. I had money, so I decided I’d go to a nearby hotel and attempt to get some sleep. Lord knew I needed it.

By the time I paid for my purchases, it was much later than I liked to be out alone. I’d parked a good distance from the store and practically ran to my car. Once inside, I locked the doors, cranked the engine, and started to drive off. But I couldn’t see out. A large square of white paper was stuck under my windshield wiper. What on earth?

As my eyes adjusted to the dark, it became clear. There, on a white piece of copy paper, drawn with a black marker, was a big heart encircling these words: “Please come home!! I miss you! I love you!”

Before I could process it all, a truck pulled up alongside me. Hanging out the window was none other than my husband. Apparently, he’d called out the search party. Beside him, grinning from ear-to-ear, sat my daughter.

And that’s when I started laughing. I laughed so hard I cried. Despite my best efforts to run away from home, the wild and zany man who loved me had managed to track me down. I couldn’t very well leave now, not with him sitting there with puppy-dog eyes.

As I followed him out of the parking lot, I realized how foolish we’d been, arguing over insignificant things, and how blessed I was that the man I loved most in the world loved me back and had come looking for me and found me, and was leading me home again.


~Dayle Allen Shockley

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