I don’t know why I remember that early morning when I slipped out of the house by myself before anyone else was awake. It was years ago, and I was about eight or nine. I don’t remember why I did it, but I remember how it felt.
It was one of the few times I had been up while my younger brothers and parents were still in bed, and I felt strongly the quietness and the loneliness of it. It was the first time I remember consciously enjoying being alone, a sense of secrecy a child with siblings rarely gets to have.
I captured everything around me, noticing each detail in my familiar backyard as if it was new. Everything felt different in the morning. The pale sun shone down on me, and the wind stirred the thick grove of trees to my left. Small birds and squirrels were the only witnesses to my small act of freedom and rebellion. I had never been explicitly told I could not leave the house alone without telling anyone, but this morning it felt forbidden, something not to tell anyone about later.
My small bare feet passed through the bright green grass, prickling me yet somehow also soft. I passed through the metal rusting gate to sit on a small hill, tucking my legs underneath me. The air was slightly cold so I tucked my legs underneath my nightgown, covered in pink polka dots and strawberries and that small spot where I could never get the bubble gum out of the fabric completely.
The peaceful outside morning atmosphere, the stillness of that backyard away from the noise of traffic or people, my own world to explore and experience. I sat still for what felt like an eternity, but in the reality of an eight year old attention span was probably only a few minutes. I soaked in the feelings, the scent of the woods, the sight of the daffodils, yellow and white against the grey garage. Quietly absorbed it in, that brief moment I still remember. Then I quietly reentered the house, closing the door cautiously, tiptoeing through the laundry room, past the kitchen and the living room with its worn plaid couch, down that long empty hallway, and into my warm bed, with the memory of the outside morning freedom wrapped in my blankets.