When I was born, my sisters were 8 and 11 years old.
By just 4 years old, I was thrown into a situation that most kids today would probably freak out and curl into a fetal position over. While being so young, I have very limited memory of the whole incident, but the story has been told so many times around family that I have pieced together most of the event.
It was an early spring day, maybe with some snow on the ground and I was playing in my front yard. A neighbor, a friend… no one remembers who this person was. Stopped and asked if I wanted to come to his house to play inside. I told my 12 yr old sister, who was babysitting, that I was leaving and off I went.
The time frames that follow are unknown…
At some point, the dad at the house I was playing at, told me I had to leave because they had to return the Stanley Steamer they had rented from the store (a very vivid part of my memory). When I walked outside, I didn’t really know where I was, or how to get home… so I started wandering. By this time, the family had already pulled away in their car.
Confidence, something I have always had… was this the reason I left this house not really knowing which way was home? Was I thinking to myself, I’ve got this!
…OR why would an adult let me, at 4 years old, just walk out and not pay attention to if I knew where I was going?
I have no real recollection of details or time in this part of the story.
After some period of time, I end up at the neighborhood grocery store… about 1 mile from my house.
This was a familiar place to me, it was the store my mom always shopped and I was there with her at least 1x per week.
As I got to the store, I walked in and followed the path that mom would take walking through the store No one really paid much attention to me walking in. Probably because I knew exactly what I was going to get there. (a very vivid part of my memory)
I’m sure I was walking with confidence. I went straight to the aisle I needed, and found my favorite snack…
I’m sure I was hungry from my mile-long trek to the store.
Breadsticks… do you remember them they were in a plastic tray covered in clear plastic with about a dozen or so hard crunchy salted breadsticks. We would twirl in butter before we took a bite? I can still picture the packaging, it had blue writing on it. Our butter tub always had small holes in it from twirling our breadsticks.
So, I grab a package and head straight to the check out line. I put my breadsticks on the conveyor belt to wait for my turn.
The cashier takes one look at me and says, “where is your mom… or who are you here with… do you have money?”
The answer to all these questions was a simple shrug of the shoulders.
At this point, someone in the next check out line over says. “I bet that is the kid everyone is looking for! There are cops everywhere”
The next thing I remember I was upstairs in the grocery store employee break room, eating my breadsticks. Still not a care in the world. I was content with my current situation.
…obviously I was reunited with my family. Lots of hugs and worried sighs of relief.
There are many morals to the story here, but one that I come back to often when the story gets brought up, is the quiet confidence I found in being alone.
No panic, no crazy thoughts of failure or what if.
The innocence of youth and not caring what is next.
I didn’t know my way, wandered a bit and found a familiar place.
I try to still live this way, but it is a struggle.
The NORM is needing to have a plan, the plan to be executed perfectly and the results to be just like you pictured them. We all know this is fantasy, yet we still don’t let ourselves wander.
When was the last time you wandered from your path and found something special??
PS. The scene at my house with my sisters and parents. A story for another day!