Blog•November 24, 2004 5:33 PM ET
One luxury this blog has afforded me is the motivation to ponder some of my long-forgotten life experiences. Yesterday I recalled one particular incident, which is fairly amusing to me. It was summertime, and I was about six years old. My family was preparing for a trip to Ocean City, New Jersey. We were going to be staying with friends for a week or so. Reading, PA is about three hours from said destination, and we didn't get to the "shore" (that's what we Pennsylvanians call the New Jersey coastline) too often, so we need some supplies. My father volunteered to go to the local pharmacy for my mom to get some last-minute items. I of course quickly volunteered my presence as well, since any trip to a store of this nature presented me with an opportunity to scope out toys and candy, two staples of existence for any normal kid. I hopped in the car with my father and we drove to the store. It was only a few minutes away, roughly 2-3 miles from our house. After we parked and walked in the store, I informed my father that I was going to look at the toys and that he should come and find me when he's ready to leave. This was a normal routine for me, something I did with my mother frequently. Back then, parents weren't too mindful of child abductions etc., so I was more or less free to roam at will. This wasn't a big store though, so my father could literally talk loudly and I'd probably hear him. Nevertheless, he went about his business and I went about mine. So after about twenty minutes of scoping various items out, I began to wonder why my father was taking so long. He wasn't one to waste time shopping. I decided to find him, rather than wait for his arrival. One by one, I began going down each aisle of the store. A minute later I had worked my way to the other end. No dad. Strange. Ok, I must have missed him. I went down each aisle again. Still nothing. I suppressed a hint of panic and plotted my next move. I walked up to the two glass doors at the front of the store and peered out. Oh no, our car wasn't there! What the heck?! The panic resurfaced quickly. I couldn't push it back this time. I pushed open the heavy glass doors of the store and walked outside. It was a sunny, normal summer afternoon. Unfortunately, I was a child a few miles from home, seemingly abandoned by my father. After standing there feeling sorry for myself and fighting back tears, instinct took over. I began running. Not a normal, leisurely jog through the woods, nor a frolick in a field, but a panicked sprint in the direction of my house. Luckily, I knew how to get home. I ran across the parking lot and started along the side of the borough's main thoroughfare. I knew the way, but had never traversed the area on foot. I was too young to be running next to a highway and crossing roads at traffic lights. Yet, here I was, running. Nobody asked my why. Nobody pulled over. It was just as well, because I all I wanted to do was get home. Where was my dad? Why hadn't I seen him drive by? A horrible thought crossed my mind -- they had left for the shore without me. My pace quickened. I ran up the hill along St. Lawrence Ave. and then up a road that led into the first part of my neighborhood. I was still about a mile from home. My adrenaline was flowing. I felt no fatigue and pressed on. I ran by the basketball courts, then the playground. I was really close now. The tears returned. The entire journey had taken about twenty minutes, and here I was about a hundred yards from home. As I turned the corner behind my neighbor's house, I recall crying out something like "please, please be home..." Seconds later I could see both of my parents' cars. They hadn't left for vacation without me. A wave of relief swept over me. I quickly ran in the house. My mother quickly appeared as I blurt out what had happened. She quickly began comforting me, the poor traumatized boy. She said something about how my father could be so absent-minded at times. Apparently he had returned home before realizing he had forgotten me. He then drove back down to the store to look for me, and when he couldn't find me, he had returned home. Neither of my parents seemed too worried. They just felt sorry for me. My father gave me a hug and said he was sorry, etc. He said that as soon as we left for the shore, we'd stop at Turkey Hill, a convenience store I had run by on my way home, to get me a large cherry slushy. Suddenly, I didn't care about the whole ordeal. I was getting a slushy!!!