Back when I was a small boy, (actually I don’t remember exactly how old I was but it was pre-school) my mother was sitting on the street curb in front of 1812 McLendon Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. I know that was the exact address because it was my grandmother’s house and that’s where my mother and I lived.
My mother was sitting on the curb with her best friend, Ruth Pittard. Now my mother was a good looking woman. And that’s not the statement of an adoring son. I can show you pictures. My mother was a good looking woman. And Ruth Pittard? Whew! Strange, even at that age, I was aware that Ruth Pittard was something else. From the perspective of this present time, I’d say Ruth Pittard made male hearts go giddy-up.
So, there’s the picture of things on that particular day back when. Two beautiful women sitting on the street curb in front of my grandmother’s house talking about whatever they were talking about. And behind them, seated on the grass I played with my toy truck.
Playing with a toy truck is fun at the age I was as my mother and Ruth Pittard sat on the street curb talking about whatever they were talking about. But, there are only so many things you can do with a 1940s tin toy truck on the grass in grandmother’s front yard before the boredom stalls the truck. That’s what happened. The tin, toy, truck was stalled by boredom and would not again crank.
I stood. I walked up to my mother and Ruth Pittard. They kept talking. I tried to interrupt. I was dismissed with a suggestion I continue to play with my toy truck. They didn’t seem to understand the concept of the toy truck being stalled.
I went back to the truck. But, hard as I tried, I could not get the truck to restart. Boredom never restarts the energy of stalled effort.
I rose again and walked over to my mother and Ruth Pittard. They were still talking about whatever they were talking about. I interrupted them. That was probably not a good idea. I was told not to interrupt them. I tried to provide a quick crash course on the effects of boredom. The subject was obviously above their comprehension. I was dismissed again. This time I refused.
I informed my mother and Ruth Pittard that if I was not included in whatever they were talking about I would run away from home. Now, my mother, beautiful as she was, could be a bit curt. She turned her head to look over her shoulder at me and suggested that would be okay.
The gauntlet had been thrown. My mother was a stubborn woman. My mother was prone to shoot from the hip. I am my mother’s child. I picked up the gauntlet. I ran away from home.
I ran away from home for about twenty yards. At that point I tripped. I fell. My forehead made contact with the edge of the concrete driveway. The skin on my forehead ruptured. The bone beneath cracked. I screamed.
I don’t remember being picked up and taken into the house. The next thing I remember is standing on the toilet seat as my mother, Ruth Pittard, and my grandmother poured Iodine into the wound. I remember the sting on that liquid. As I write this now I cannot help but wonder if the Iodine was an act of compassion or an act of torture.
To this day, if I wrinkle my brow in just the right way, the scars from the stitches administered at Emory Hospital are visible. When I look in the mirror and see those scars I remember my first attempt to run away from home.
There’s a lesson here: When you run away from your problems you’re going to end up getting hurt.