But what makes teenagers rebel?
Adolescence denotes the stage of life when a young person moves from childhood to adulthood, from relying on their parents to independence. It's a time of great change not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, spiritually and socially. Teens are questioning who they are, what they believe and how they fit into the world. The strong individuals must place the hardest burden on their parents. Later, I'll share with you why I ran away as a teenager.
1958 South Australia. At the age of 16, with excess energy and at the peek of my fitness, I'd run along the Glenelg beach at night, and then up and down the shopping street jumping to touch overhead signs. My divorced mother and I adored each other, which gave me a solid base to stand on, and no reason to fight for my freedom.
The first job I found was working as a junior in a city advertising agency, hired by a very understanding boss. I didn't do much, obviously didn't fulfill the intended role, so after a year, he arranged a job with his friend on the other side of Adelaide, working as a doctor's receptionist in a quiet suburb. Boring but safe.
I joined gym in Adelaide and persuaded Mother to help me financially. This must have been difficult for her, but she managed, despite supporting my two younger sisters on her own.
Grandma, who'd worked as assistant Head Mistress at Church of England schools teaching history and English most of her working life, moved back to Glenelg. At 70 years, she was taking retirement at last. But she couldn't occupy her own home with her family home full to bursting with Uncle Pete and his two toddlers, as well as my mother and her three daughters. I often visited Grandma in her local flat. Her sharp wit and direct line of approach kept me on my toes. I got the feeling she didn't approve of the way I behaved although she never said so, rather, patting my hand and calling me 'a nice girl'. Perhaps she had become accustomed to girls from wealthier families—girls who didn't throw caution to the wind and live on the charm of natural good looks. I hope I wasn't conceited, but I might have taken my good fortune for granted. At last My Uncle Pete found another woman. When he left, Grandma moved into her own front bedroom.
I had a brief flirtation with one of the local lifesavers, followed by a relationship with an entrepreneur, who finally wooed me enough to take my virginity during one of the fabulous parties he and I attended. Stupid, stupid girl. Why did I fall for his fancy words?
On the Glenelg beach the following day, I met Graeme, six months older than me, handsome, fit and the perfect male specimen. Just imagine wide shoulders, narrow hips, skin that shone with a copper gleam, and legs so well-muscled his calves stood out like triangles. As a younger man living at Sorrento in Victoria, he'd been a surfboard rider and a sailor. Not only his good looks charmed me. I loved the way he spoke, his voice, the way his words made me feel.
Neither Grandma or my mother liked Graeme and tried to point out his character flaws. Grandma banned him from the house, claiming he was a selfish, conceited upstart and would be no good for me. She was right. His jealousy caused many problems, especially when I admitted my earlier lapse to him. Much to Mother's annoyance, seeing as she'd paid for a full year at the gym, he insisted I stop attending. I'm sure it was because he couldn't keep an eye on me there.
My father drove over from Melbourne and found us wandering the streets after dark. I never found out how he heard of my plight. He suggested I come and live with him. That seemed a better option.
In Brighton, I started working for Lloyd, as my father liked to be called, as assistant secretary, and trying to learn shorthand after hours. He socialized a lot as an advertising executive and was rarely in the office. Perhaps his fatherly example of natural charm led to my undoing.
Had he separated me on purpose? Did he already have plans to move before I joined them? Despite everything, I knew he and Mollie loved me, but I was unhappy. I wanted freedom.
After a year of separation, I ran away—well, ran to the station and caught the train to Melbourne to meet Graeme. Funny how I never feared for my safety alone in the dark. That's the greatest concern when girls go missing nowadays. I don't think there were less predators around. Somehow, I felt protected, secure in my own being. I'm not sure my confidence would have worked if threatened.
Graeme's older brother intervened and convinced me to move into a seaside girls' hostel for everyone's peace of mind. With both my parent's knowledge, I settled into the YMCA residence on the Esplanade at Elwood. And so, I gained my independence. Too stubborn for my own good.
Did you ever consider running away?