No fence is gonna keep me in.

I stretched and reached for the piece of leather that dangled from the metal clasp, only to realize that I would miss it by more than a foot. I wasn’t only lacking in height, but depth perception, too. It didn’t matter. I scuttled up the steps of our little deck and dragged a wicker chair over to the stairs where I let it bounce down to the gravel. I rolled its irregular body through the rocks to the gate, tipped it right side up, crawled up into the seat and released the shiny aluminum fastener. My heart skipped a beat as I jumped out of the chair, knocked it over and rolled it out of the way and walked up to the gate. Adventures awaited.

I heard the vacuum inside the place we called home. My mother couldn’t see me, so it was time to run. I opened the gate just enough to squeeze through the opening and tiptoed through the gravel until I hit the driveway. From there, I skipped to the sidewalk and looked at my neighborhood.

My memory tells me that it was much like the neighborhood in Edward Scissorhands. Driving though it now indicates that it’s more like. . . . the transition between a trailer park and other low -income housing, because that’s what it has always been. It doesn’t matter, I wanted to explore.

Without my mother or father, I could go where ever I wanted. I was free. My little legs took me toward the only landmarks the whole neighborhood could see, the tall trees. Most of the area didn’t have any large ones, just thin, wimpy saplings or short little shrubs that never seemed to get enough water.

I enjoyed my freedom until the first neighbor showed up. A tall, thin white man that looked like Mr. Rogers peered at me from his stoop. I didn’t understand that the consternation in his face was due to my lack of mother or father at that moment, he just looked mean, so I began to run.

I made it another block before I turned down a gravel alley. It seemed that I would make it to my destination faster that way and the street probably had more weirdos. I happily tromped along the deserted alley hearing kids playing in back yards concealed by fences when out of nowhere, loud barking startled me. I couldn’t see the dogs, but they all sounded large. The fence next to me rocked like giants were pushing against it and the ferocious bellowing of monster dogs made it all the worse. Again, I ran as fast as my three-year-old legs would carry me.

I never made it to the end of the alley. Not long after the encounter with the large, angry dogs, my terrified, crying mother began yelling at me as she approached. I made an attempt to run, but her long legs were better at this than mine were. She overtook me, scooped me up in her arms and through tears and anger, explained that I was awful for doing this to her. I didn’t really care, I was more miffed that I didn’t get to the giant trees.

Freedom to pursue what I wanted was just as amazing then as it is now. Breaking out of the fenced-in yard left me exposed to creepy neighbors and potentially rabid dogs, but it seemed worth it for the sake of striving toward my goal. I’m examining the fences that I have today and counting the costs of freedom. Will it be worth it to step out of the safety that someone else has provided, even though it seems like an impediment to my goal?

I hope so, because here I go.