My phone rings at 5 o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday, and I hear an almost frantic voice breathing heavy on the other side of the phone. I feel the need to condense this story as I have gone over it at least five times over the past two days, and reliving it makes me frenetic all over again. In a nutshell, my friend Maureen's son Tristan decided to run away with his friend. Two eleven year old boys. No cash, no phones, no maps, no clothing, no plan. What is so scary about this is that when I look back on my "runaway" attempts, they were always in the heat of the moment. Mid-fight, one foot out the door and I would bolt. And I would get two blocks away and just know that every additional step I took would yield a bigger and bigger punishment.
And I would walk inside, shrugging off the accusations. "What? Me? Run away? You thought I was serious? I was just going for a three minute jog. It's what I do now." What is so scary is that this was not a "crime of passion." This was an, at least slightly, premeditated and very deliberate plan to leave home and loved ones in search of a life where "...we can be comfortable and, like, not get yelled at anymore." I grimace to call it a plan, but I guess that is what it has to be called.
Over five hours. FIVE HOURS. Of gut wrenching, worst case scenario's running through my head. His mother was pacing her house frantically answering every call and more than likely ready to collapse every time it was not her son. We had gathered an unofficial search party of almost twenty friends and family members. We scoured every local store and restaurant, a terrifying creek, I drove slowly over the railroad tracks almost afraid to open my eyes and see anything at all. We checked parks, called school and boy scout rosters, had melt downs, spoke to every kid we could find. And then there was the official search party. Dumont Police were efficient and supportive and immediate and expansive and if I baked, I would bake them what would be a low fat yet delicious alternative to fried donuts. After five hours of searching and holding back tears and not holding back tears, my friends Suzanne and Katie found the boys walking back towards the house on the side of a road in a town that is not next door, that they were not at all familiar with.
The call to my cell phone saying that Tristan was found was the best call I have ever gotten. I totally felt like jogging for about three minutes. When the dust settled, I had the opportunity to speak to Tristan. I wanted to know his motives, I wanted to know if they accidentally played catch with used hypodermic needles or wrestled in poison ivy or spoke to anyone other than themselves. I hope that Tristan understands the love and support he has and that he need look no further than his phone book to find whatever he may be looking for. Unless it's a used hypodermic needle. But I don't know everyone in his phone book...
After all was said and done, Carrie slept for eleven hours. Omayra went home and without even knowing what was happening, she threw up from pent up stress all day long. I couldn't even drive myself home. I curled up on a floor and prayed for the room to stop spinning. I figured I could throw extra prayers out there since the only one that mattered had been answered. Once my world stopped spinning, I started combing through my hair looking for the whites. I feel them brewing inside of me. But a funny for you:
Tristan: "Well, we passed by a Lottery Store and we wanted to go in, because we were, like, thirsty and stuff. But I decided that we couldn't go in. Not even to get a bottle of water. Because then the guy inside could turn us in."
Me: "Turn you in? What does that mean?"
Tristan: "You know, like either he would take us to the orphanage or bring us back to our owners."
I hear Tenafly has an insane orphanage over-flow issue right now. Good thing he thought that one out.