Not Allowed To Leave The House

Walking to the library late yesterday afternoon, I overheard some boys talking to each other.

"I’m only in fourth grade," said one, "and I’m not allowed to leave the house, yet I know my way around this city."

He’s not allowed to leave the house without supervision? Wow.

Before I entered school in second grade in Cooranbong, Australia, I wandered around the bush chopping down trees and blazing trails. By fifth grade, I was leaving the house early every morning for a two mile run. Then it was two-mile bike ride to school.

By seventh grade, I was running more than six miles a day. On Sundays, I’d take off early in the morning with a little money in my pocket and just run and walk most of the day and stop into stores and buy lemonade and candy.

I spent the summer between eight and ninth grade in Washington D.C. where again I’d just take off and spend the day walking around the city.

When my brother was 14, he’d hitchhike 60 miles each way on a Sunday to go to these races.

In high school on many Friday nights in winter, I’d tell my parents I was going to a Bible study and then I’d run and walk the two miles into town and cover basketball games for the Auburn Journal.

I grew up with a lot of space. At home, I made sure to play by the rules. Outside of the home, I collected Playboy and Penthouse magazines and stashed them in the woods for after-school inspiration before returning to the cold Christ-centered tyranny of evangelical Christianity.

Once at an Orthodox Jewish home in the Aish HaTorah community, I heard the mother say she’d given her son a Penthouse magazine and a jar of vaseline for his bar mitzvah.

With such goodies, the boy will never want to leave the house.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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