Yesterday my oldest daughter, a high school senior, played a song for me, Runaway by Love and Theft. A few of the lines are:
I'm gonna pack my bags and never look back
Run a parallel line with the railroad tracks
And make my getaway
I'll put the pedal to the metal as the sun goes down
Leave everybody sleeping in this sleepy town tonight
And at the break of day I'll be a runaway
I asked her if that was going to be her a year from now when she leaves for college. She smiled at me and shrugged. I know that she’s anxious to get on with her life. Senior year seems like a waste of her time, a delay in her plans. I remember that feeling myself, though I’m not sure she’d believe that I felt the same way. My husband and I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run in those days. Actually, we still listen to Bruce, but the words to Born to Run really struck hard with us in 1976:
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
`cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run
So we ran. We ran away from the town we thought would rip the bones from our back and we ran to college, to marriage, to kids, to careers; basically to adulthood, to self-discovery and self-fulfillment.
What I realize now is that it’s not the running away that’s important; it’s the running to. Running away feels negative and implies giving up and leaving behind; running to feels positive and implies goals, desires and dreams to explore. When my daughter “runs away” I hope that she will understand that she’s not just running away, she’s also running to.