It happened so long ago I nearly forgot all about it...until I started to self-analyze why I have such a sour reaction to being taken somewhere against my will for more than an hour or so. Not stores or birthday parties or anything like that, but somewhere unfamiliar and far away from home. It's a part of adult life that most people can accept and deal with. I whine and complain about it like a child. And here's why...
I had made plans to sleep over a friend's house one night. We were in the same third grade class, though I'm not sure if it was during the school year or the summer after third. The details are quite fuzzy at this point; it was over twenty years ago, long before every nine year old had a smart phone. (and this explains why they should). I do remember my friend's name. I won't say it here, but it's the same as a recently deceased pop star.
I'm piecing the story together from snapshots, uncovered from the depths of my memory. In the first, I'm lying on his living room floor, in a sleeping bag perhaps. It's dark outside and inside, but for a small lamp light.
The next morning I'm in the backseat of his mother's car. I don't remember if he was up front or in back with me. All I know is she had plans to see a relative that day. What I didn't know was that her relative - sister, cousin, mother...whoever it was - lived in Hartford.
|and I lived in the New Haven-Milford area|
I had never been to Hartford before. I knew it was far away from home, and I knew the Whalers played there. But his family didn't strike me as the type to take me to a hockey game.
At some point I must have realized that I was two hours away from home, with no idea when I would return. My friend's mother could have brought me home before visiting family in Hartford. I do not know why she didn't. The only two possible explanations: my mother was not home at the time (unlikely, her schedule has always been flexible and what mother wouldn't rearrange her schedule in order to retrieve her 9 year old son?) or his mother simply had no regard for this child that wasn't hers. She would return me home when (if?) it was convenient for her. Which brings me to the next snapshot: I can vaguely recall her mother telling my mother exactly that.
That's when shit got scary. How am I going to get home?
In the last snapshot my memory has saved from that incident, I'm walking with my friend outside what was likely a housing project. I must have passed a pay phone at one point because I remember feeling very nervous and upset that I couldn't call my mom. (I also remember feeling very cold, so it's possible this was during Winter Break and I didn't have an adequately warm coat. Can't be certain though.)
I don't remember when I got back home. As I recall, I spent the first day at my friend's house and the second day in that Hartford housing project - which leads me to believe I was under their "care" for well over 48 hours. I know my mother was contacted at least once, and I know that when I got back my friend felt terrible about the whole ordeal. We both knew I was never sleeping over again.
In fourth grade I changed schools due to an unrelated incident of adolescent trauma, so I never saw those people again. I knew I was being held against my will (and my mother's) but until I reflected on it as an adult I never fully realized that I had been kidnapped.