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When I was about 8 years old, I got it into my head that I would run away from home. At that particular time my family and I were living in a neighborhood in Knoxville, Tenn., that still had vacant lots and new construction. I imagined myself taking shelter in the wooden skeleton of one of those new houses.
I read books about runaways including “My Side of the Mountain” and I figured if those young children could make a successful go of it then I could, too. However, I failed miserably. I didn’t even make it out the door.
My first mistake was telling my parents about my plans. I sat in my room, which had an intercom to the first floor of the house, yearning to push the speaker button, but not really having the guts to follow through.
I had already packed a bag, but I discovered the actual part of leaving home was more difficult than I had bargained.
I did finally inform my parents about my plans. My mother didn’t seem all that impressed. She calmly pointed out the many holes in my scheme – what would I do for money, food, etc. This is where my second mistake appears; I hadn’t thought about these rather essential details and suddenly running away no longer looked appealing.
My father took me aside and asked me why I wanted to flee from the house. I didn’t really know what to say, so I fibbed. I said I wanted to leave because I was always getting into trouble. This was a really ridiculous lie; I was skilled at exasperating my parents but I was no troublemaker.
As a result, even though this incident occurred decades ago my sister will still giggle at my lame excuse for running away.
I never told my family my true intentions. My real reason for wanting to strike out on my own was a secret I hid away from their attention.
Today, however, I feel like spilling the beans. I wanted to run away because I really wanted to have an adventure. I saw running away as a wild, untamed experience.
There would be no rules, no safety; just the thrill of what lay ahead at the next bend.
Although my parents’ logic pulled my naïve perception of what life would be like as a runaway into reality, that thrill for an adventure never died.
I may have traveled the world, moved out of my parents’ home and into my own, but I have yet to fulfill my desire for a great adventure. Recently, an opportunity has appeared to allow me to take this step.
I decided to join with the Trinity on the Hill’s House of Hope group that is traveling to Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico to build a house for a family.
For the past two years, I have received pictures and articles about this annual excursion to print in the newspaper. I have read about how these houses started out as a simple square patch of concrete, but in three days the slab of concrete was replaced with an actual house.
I loved the parts in the articles when the group would meet with past house recipients or how the future homeowners would lend a hand in the building project. This short building session was filled with such joy, hope and celebration that when an invitation was extended to me to join this year’s build, no time to think was needed; I just said yes.
Now this, I reasoned, was a true adventure. This excursion is different from all the others I have taken. The safety cushion of a tour group with its air-conditioned bus, hotel accommodations and guide leader isn’t there.
Plus, this isn’t to view sites that haven’t been lived in or used for hundreds of years and therefore have become giant, although still significant, knick-knacks. This adventure comes with a soulful purpose to help improve someone else’s life.
It’s an objective worth the risks and it’s an experience I want to possess.
As the days get closer to the date that the group and I depart for Juárez, I notice more and more my parents shaking their heads in disbelief that I would travel to an area that is plagued with violence and tragedy. It makes me think about that distant memory when I announced I would run away from home.
Perhaps now that the beans are spilled, the reasons will be a little clearer.