Did you run away when you were little? I did not. It would not have been worth it. Not even for elusive 6th grade street cred. My parents would have called the police within half an hour of my leaving, by which time I would have chickened out anyway, turning back in fear of impending nightfall or of a menacing mid-sized insect crossing my path. I’d return about the same time that the cops were getting settled on the couch to take a report. My parents, embarrassed, would mask their fury, feign relief, and beat the crap out of me after the officers left.
Sometimes I would go through the motions though. Like after my parents had a particularly bad fight. Or when I finally decided I could really make it on Broadway if I could just get there. I enjoyed preparing to run away, because it meant packing worthy provisions. In playing it out I crammed my nylon windbreaker pockets with peanut butter sandwich quarters, tins of baked beans and cocktail weenies with pull-back lids. Even then I wouldn’t think of surviving in the wild without sound snack options.
Today, my runaway kit would look only slightly different. There would be wine, for one thing, dark chocolate and seriously good cheese, and probably everything else that’s in this issue about dining outdoors. Because what is al fresco dining about more than portability? Sure it’s about taste and relative ease, like most dinners, but it’s also about food you can move from your kitchen to your backyard without losing half of it, and not having to worry much about utensils or whether something needs to be served immediately so it doesn’t get cold. Light, no fuss, lovely to pick at, as easy to pile on one tray as to throw in your knapsack…sort of. So whether it’s time to finally show your girlfriend what life would be like without you, or it’s your turn to have your friends over for pre-show nibbles on the deck, this is the issue for you.