In childhood, there are many places to hide. And the best are those where no one will find you. My mom remembers my sister, my brother, and me as all being remarkably quiet kids. She searches her memory and nowhere does she find the noisiness of childhood existence. And so it was easy hiding out and getting lost in these interminable stretches of soundlessness. I never minded this. My childhood heroes were Orphan Annie, The Boxcar Children, and Billy from the book, Where the Red Fern Grows. I was the middle child and never afraid of the freedom that it afforded me. I very easily lived in a world of my own creation--one that functioned ever the better with as little parental supervision as possible.
As a kid my childhood hiding places included an infamous closet and sitting in front of the shelf behind my child-size rocking chair. It was there that I lost myself in books even before I was able to read. There were also the stick and pine bough forts constructed out in the woods where I lived on the sweet sap of honeysuckle blossoms and crackers.
When my grandpa built my sister and me a playhouse, I wasted no time and "moved" in at the age of six, promptly inscribing my very first word into the plywood walls, "HOME." I had everything I needed and my parents saw very little of me from that moment on. By the time I was a teenager I had managed, quite easily, to slip in and out without being noticed. After all, near silence had become a habit in my family--but I was not unhappy with this. I had much better things to do than explain myself or beg for permission to take leave, as many of my friends had to do. My parents trusted us kids and I, for one, took full advantage of it.
I have found that the older one becomes, the fewer hiding places there seem to be. However, at the age of 18, I was luckily still innocent of this and (much to my parent's dismay) thoroughly enticed by an unlimited landscape inviting me into its game of hide and seek. There were times that no one knew where I was for weeks. I remember it, so far, as being the best and most earnestly lived time of my life. I was finding hiding places as good as any of the Boxcar Children's hideouts--yes, even including a few boxcars of my own.
I left through the back door of my imagination while sitting in the darkened closet of my childhood. It was an easy way to leave behind the drudgery of an otherwise plain and uneventful existence. I embarked with little planning on a quest that brought me to many extraordinary hideouts--following the lengths of highways and railroads to their ends where I found caves and forests, mountains, jungles, oceans and deserts tucked into an endless expanse. I followed into the now of the corner of this room where I sit writing and remembering--where I have come to enjoy the way that hiding out is really a means of diving in.