Running away from home

We’re having a frank conversation.

‘Did you ever run away from home, Mummy?’ she asks. We’re having lunch, just the two of us because it’s a Tuesday and she’ll head back to school in an hour (Swiss school hours…go figure).

‘No, but once when I was about your age I packed a bag and hid it around the side of our house,’ I tell her. I remember it well, that feeling of excitement and anticipation, deliberating over what to include and what to leave out, already mourning the loss of everything I knew, but picturing myself sleeping under a hedge and chewing on the sandwich I would make sure to include. After the sandwich the dream always became a little blurry, although I knew that there would be many adventures, that it would never rain, and that I would find kindred spirits along the way. Just like in all the books I’d read.

‘I’ve thought about it,’ she tells me, ducking her head just a little because, naturally, running away from home also means leaving her parents behind, and that’s sad. But I can see in her eyes that she’s had the same dreams I had when I was her age, and that makes me very happy.

‘What happened?’ she asks, and I tell her that by the time night time rolled around I’d reconsidered, figuring it was probably more fun to read about it than actually do it. And then I tell her that I think my mother actually knew what I was planning and she laughs at the idea of Grandma hiding somewhere and watching me pack my bag and make my sandwich.

‘I don’t think I’ll do it, either,’ she says, and I tell her I’m glad because I’d really miss her, but that I understand why she might want to, because books make anything seem possible.

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