Monday, February 16, 2015
Run, run, run, run, run, runaway...
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Anyone who knows me has heard me complain over the last month and a half about getting work done. Oh, I've been getting plenty of work done - sweeping hearths, toting wood, gravity flushing toilets (the downstairs water line is frozen) washing dishes by hand in a tub (ditto.) But the real work? Writing? Not so much. Throw in snow day after snow day with everyone in the family home (including my husband, the special ed teacher) and...well, let's say I was getting close to taking an axe to the wall.
So I ran away from home. To Nantucket, where my beloved agent (hi, Meg!) has a house standing all alone and empty because, let's face it, Nantucket's big tourism time is not during blizzard season. It's been marvelous, much better than the other time I ran away from home with a sandwich, a book and a butter knife (personal protection.) I hadn't really thought the plan through back then, being eight, and so neglected both money and clean underwear. Not to mention a passport, since I was an American national living in Germany at the time.
This time, I took busses from Portland to Boston, Boston to Hyannis, and then the ferry to the island. When I was eight, I had a similar plan, but the only transportation service I knew of on our army base was the school bus, and it was unfortunately Saturday. I spent some time skulking around the bus stop, ate the sandwich way too soon, and eventually sat under a bush to get out of the sun. I was sort of like Claudette Colbert in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, except instead of Clark Gable, I was rescued by my mother, who gave me a hug, brought me home, and fixed me my favorite meal, Kraft macaroni and cheese.
How about you, Reds? What were your runaway adventures?
RHYS BOWEN: Julia, I'm so sorry you've been going through all this. It makes me shiver just to read about it. As for running away, I've thought about it many times over the years, Julia,(like when all four children were down with stomach flu) but never when I was a child. I suppose I must have had a fairly contented childhood. But I was born with a travel bug. I am told when I was taken to the ocean for the first time when I was two I started to walk into the water, wearing only my sun-bonnet, and kept on walking. The adults watched with interest and then had to sprint in and rescue me when I got close to my neck. After that I bugged my parents to let me go abroad and traveled to Austria alone when I was twelve.
But more recently I have used research as a good excuse for a mini-escape. I write about New York and England, don't I? So I have to go there regularly. And it is always amazing having to please nobody but myself, having no schedule but my own. I should do it more often--like tomorrow!
HALLIE EPHRON: Your question stopped me. Have I ever run away? I don't think so. I imagined doing it as a kid -- I might even have gotten as far as tying a bandana on the end of a a stick and loading it with a peanut butter sandwich. My parents just ignored me. It was their way. Which made it silly to run away... from what?
I confess my favorite place to be is home, so even with another blizzard threatening it's where I want to be. But then, we're not gravity flushing our toilets. Yet.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Julia, I'm not sure I can even begin to sympathize. I think the longest we've ever been weather-locked her is five or six days...
I think I ran away once as a kid--if you can call climbing a tree in our front pasture and refusing to come down running away. I was in trouble for something and must have thought I could avoid the fallout. Or that my mom would come and beg me to come down. Not. I got tired and hungry and really uncomfortable, and finally had to climb down at dark, go home and face the music.
As a grown-up (sort of) I have run away to write, usually to not very exciting hotels. I keep wishing someone would offer me a catered beach cabin... ??
JULIA: That's sort of what I have right now, Debs, only with a frozen arctic wasteland instead of a beach.
LUCY BURDETTE: I'm a homebody too, like Hallie. John says I have a deep taproot, and wilt when transplanted if the prep work isn't done carefully. I ran away to France for a semester during college. Despite a month in Paris, and four in Avignon, I was dreadfully homesick. So running away was not a great solution. I remember when I was very young, my older sister disappeared--after threatening to run away. My parents searched everywhere, more and more frantic. Finally they found her hanging at the back of a chair in the living room, lifting her feet when anyone bent down to look. Like I said, homebodies at heart!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Yes, my favorite place is home, too definitely. When I was a kid, used to threaten to run away, all the time. It was very unsuccessful, since every time I'd announce I was going, my Mom would say: "Have fun" and "Don't bother to write!" And m sister would say "Can I have your room?" Which sort of took the fun out of it.
(I was also always waiting for my REAL mother, the queen of someplace, to come pick Princess Me up. She never did.)
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I don't think I ever ran away as a kid, but I definitely run away now! (But in a good, recharging way.) Like Debs, I go to the UK and Europe in the name of "research." I've also done some housesitting gigs/short hotel stays just to get some uninterrupted writing time. Last year around this time, I housesat for friends in Cambridge, Ma. who HAVE THEIR OWN LIBRARY. Heaven! Also an enormous soaking tub and fantastic Indian food delivery. (Note to self — check in with said friends to see if they need a house sitter again!)
JULIA: I think we can all agree that running away from home as a grownup is far nicer than running away as a kid. Indian food delivery beats squished PB&J sandwiches every time.
How about you, dear readers? What are your runaway stories?