Running Away


I’d threatened many times to join the circus or go live on a raft on the Mississippi like Tom and Huck. But that wasn’t the case this time. It was some since-forgotten atrocity—homework? weekend chores? (I still hate vacuuming)—that led to my decision to run away forever.

I was surprised at the coolness of Mom’s reaction:

“Are you sure?”



That was it. Just “OK.” And then she proceeded to pack my lunch. She was obviously anxious to get rid of me.

I stomped about in my bedroom, slamming necessities—my sacred texts (Huckleberry Finn, Call of the Wild, The Three Musketeers), leftover Valentine’s Day candy—into a makeshift rucksack (my pillowcase), then headed for the front door, shouting, “I’m going now!”





It was nearly two miles to the end of the flower field, the last vestige of rural life in our booming Orange County suburb. I’d watched the migrant workers pick flowers in the field. I’d built multiple tree houses there. But I’d never been to the end, where the stately eucalyptus trees marched. Until now.

As I trudged along, rucksack dangling from a broom handle, plastic pioneer canteen on my belt, I was ablaze with the spirit of adventure.

The only thing hampering my carefree spirit was the feeling I was being followed. Each time I’d reach the top of a hill I’d look back. Hadn’t I seen that car before? But then it would be gone. No, just my imagination. (Which was roughly the size of equatorial Africa).

Who knew a sack lunch could taste so good? I finished my PB&J, drained the last drop from my authentic Daniel Boone canteen, and headed toward the distant hills as the sun turned to burnt sienna (one of my favorite Crayola colors).

Three hours later, I was deep into uncharted territory. I was cold. And thirsty. Why had I decided to leave again? Reading a favorite chapter of Tom Sawyer would help, but that would require a bedside lamp. Or a flashlight and covers to read beneath.

I sat down on the hard alien soil, but I didn’t cry.


I’d almost reached the point of total despair when I heard wheels creeping up beside me. It wasn’t the sound of a car that had just arrived, it was the sound of a car that had been waiting, perhaps thirty of forty feet away, and then simply crept forward. Oh, great! I thought. And now I get kidnapped! Shlunka, shlunka, shlunk, the window rolled down.

“We’re having spaghetti for dinner. Want to come home?”

This time it was me who said,


“Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.”

Psalm 139: 9-10

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Story Power and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Running Away

  1. What a lovely story Mitch. 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful childhood memory, tenderly ecased in your heart toward God -Lovely!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. hahaha…this is just perfect. Brought a huge smile to my face, can’t stopped giggling about it. God Bless 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not a parent myself but I’ve always thought that the best way to approach it is as your mother did!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. George says:

    Great story and passage!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bdeckard92 says:

    Love this… I wonder if it’s a right of passage for the boys who grew into men “of a certain age” to run away. I know I had a few times walking down the street with a blanket and pillow pulled behind me in my radio flyer… I wouldn’t make it too many steps before flying back. And how like our relationship with God it is… You put it beautifully and matched it well to scripture! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahhhh, love this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. toutparmoi says:

    I was given to packing a small bag and leaving home, but never had the foresight to take a book with me, so had to return when I got bored. My dramatic departures and nonchalant returns always went unremarked. Good story. Great message.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jennie says:

    Great story! Orange County, VA?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Running Away – Wayne Boyd's Rational Thinking 101

  11. says:

    Lovely story with a great ending quote. I ran away several times as a kid, but never further than around the block . I always came. A little when I felt my parents would really be so worried they would welcome me with open arms.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mike Cullen says:

    so beautiful a story with a wondrous Psalm to finish it off.
    Thanks Mitch

    Liked by 1 person

  13. nanciec13 says:

    love this story. Don’t we all have one? thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A modern version of Prodigal Son? You’re such a good story teller. It seems like this is is not fiction? I read about 2 girls, late teens, running away from eastern central state to Portland, OR to experience the “White Trash Homeless.” Interviewed by the police, called home, one went with the boyfriend to CA. Can’t remember what happened to the sister. My only running away is running to US 40 years ago. It’s as a long term plan of running away.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love this story. We certainly can’t run from Abba Father. 🙂 I have been camped out in Psalm 139 for the past couple weeks. I’m just amazed at how dearly he knows and loves us. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Terri Nida says:

    One of my favorite passages in the Bible. We just can’t escape from God. What a wonderful story. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Once, when I got tired of listening to my 4 year old telling me that he wished that I was like his friend’s mother who lived across the street, I packed a few of his clothes, grabbed his hand and walked him across the street. I think we were on the friend’s front porch when a fearful realization dawned on my son’s face and he suddenly decided that he didn’t want to live there after all! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jeff Haberman says:

    Nice memory of your childhood Mitch. It brought back the many “adventures” I had as a child spent in what is now La Mirada City Park. We use to just call it “The Field”. I loved the meandering creek, the old oak trees, the rolling hills with flocks of sheep off in the distance, the deserted “wildcat” shacks along with the stands of the aging olives groves. A very “special” place in time. Thanks for your story my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Got to love it. We might be a prodigal but we have a Father who never lets us go far.

    Thanks for sharing,


    Liked by 1 person

  20. Love the loving parent image and Psalm image of God being the same!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: How Does He Do That? – Two Are Better Than One

  22. You were much more determined and adventurous than I was Mitch… My mom helped me pack my back as well, but all I did was walk out the front door, around the house and in the back door. I was only four at the time, so maybe to me it was equivalent to fields of flowers. I’m sure there were some dandelions in our front yard. 😂 Thank you for this adorable story… pieces of the Mitch puzzle are pulling together. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This is so well written. I really like your mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. When I told my mother that I was running away she put me out the door and slammed it. I felt like Rodney Dangerfield who said, “I don’t get no respect.”

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Great ending quote. You never see it coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Sherry Nostrant says:

    Great story and your mom handled it like a real pro.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. pennylanethoughts says:

    I really Love this Mitch! Wonderful story, wonderfully written!

    Liked by 1 person

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