Running Away, "All the Pretty Horses" Style
I was never one of those kids that felt the need to run away from home. My mom or dad might tell me differently, but I can't remember a single instance where I even threatened to do so. Even so, I have found my run away hero.
Wyatt McLaughlin is a 13-year-old kid from Amelia County, a pretty rural place that's about 30 miles west of Richmond. Last Wednesday, Wyatt packed up two horses in a horse trailer, then loaded the family's truck up with food, clothing, some extra propane tanks and the family dog. And then he ran away--or should I say, DROVE away.
Already when I heard this part of the story, I had some mad respect for Wyatt. I mean, seriously, what 13-year-old has that kind of planning ability?! Hell, I was still playing with my Barbies when I was 13! (Crap, did I just admit that to the whole world?!)
Anyway, on Saturday, news came that Wyatt had been found. 1200 MILES AWAY, AT A RODEO IN TEXAS!!!!!!! Holy crap, kid! YOU ARE MY HERO! I mean, yeah, I understand his parents were probably worried sick. I feel for them, I really do, but DANG! I'm not even sure *I* could load all of that up and haul a horse trailer halfway across the country. You know the kid's dad is pissed, he has to be, but I bet secretly he is incredibly proud of his son for having such awesome survival skills at such a tender age. :)
The other details you may want to know: Wyatt had been to that rodeo before with his family, so it wasn't like he just randomly found somewhere to go. Also, the news story speculated that he may have been trying to get to a girl he had been chatting with online. (What percentage of runaways these days are because of online relationships? It's gotta be, like, 75% or more.) Also, his parents had gone to Texas because they thought he might end up there, so they were there to round him up. Oh, and even though he's only 13, he is apparently about 6' tall, so he can pass as 18 or 19.
I hope that Wyatt did just run away because of some girl and not because his home life was awful... certainly if there were some sad circumstances motivating him I'd be less inclined to be in awe of him and more inclined to feel bad for him. But still...
You can check out the Times Dispatch's coverage of Wyatt McLaughlin's Excellent Adventure here and here. Also, if you've never read All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, you should. Every time I think of Wyatt I think of John Grady, the main character, and Cormac McCarthy is an amazing author... one of my favorites!