When I was four, my mom, dad, two little brothers, and I lived a few houses away from Nana’s at Laurel Park in Northampton, MA, in an arc of small homes that shared a large front yard. We lived in a red cottage with one bedroom and an upper loft that sat on the far right side of the arc, and I could see Nana’s house from our front door which rested all the way to the left of the arc.
One day, I became upset with my parents. I’m not sure why or if it made sense to anyone other than a four-year-old, but I do remember the feeling of frustration. I decided to run away before I knew what that even meant.
I had a red metal Radio Flyer wagon that would be my getaway tool. I found a few paper grocery bags in the kitchen (three, I believe), filled them with as many Polly Flinders dresses as I could, and took off across our shared yard to Nana’s. The air was comfortable, but the sky represents itself as overcast in my memory.
At the time, I would only wear dresses, usually complemented with navy blue or red tights with the knees ripped out.
With my scrunched-up mad face, I tore off to Nana’s which was a couple hundred feet away, skinny right arm aimed way back dragging the wagon, knuckles probably pale white. I left my wagon outside and went into her house. I told her I was going to live with her instead. She smiled, took me in, and talked to me like a human, not a baby.
This was forty-four years ago, and the emotions remain with me. She listened to me and did not brush me off. After she calmed me down and repaired my pouting with simple compassion and respect, she asked me if we could call my parents. My dad answered, and although I don’t remember the exact dialogue, I do remember him being very nice to me. We agreed that I would go home, so I did.
Isn’t it odd how memories creep into the front of your mind for no reason? It’s kind of a pretty cool gift sometimes, isn’t it?
Click HERE to see a Realtor.com link of 52 Laurel Park where we lived. It looks different, but the vibe still seems familiar to me. The community which still operates has its own post office, meeting hall, playground, and a tabernacle we used to spend some Sunday mornings in.