Imagine a grown woman first crouching down behind a tree and then scampering back and forth between several more trees in the middle of a mostly deserted park that is mostly used by runners. Imagine this woman chuckling a bit maniacally and the only thing that might save this woman from looking completely insane is the five-year old child with her. But mind you, this child is rather small and so the woman runner with earbuds might have only noticed me acting like a weirdo.
I thought about calling out to the runner “I’m only playing hide and go seek!” but some reassurances do not reassure. Anyway, I wasn’t about ready to give up my spot (which was a very good hiding spot) so I continued to crouch behind the fattest tree and the woman runner diverted off the running path and got the fuck out of there.
Afterwards, I felt really bad. I had just read Running on Sober’s poignant, ultimately uplifting piece on what it means to be a runner after the Boston marathon bombing. I realized this woman runner I spooked was probably on heightened alert after what happened in Boston. As a woman, I would not want to run in this park alone because it is secluded and I am a scaredy cat.
I got sucked back into a thrilling high stakes game of hide and seek and forgot about the woman runner until I saw her drive off in her car, which had been parked near the trees where my daughters were then hiding. I like to think she saw them lurking and running and crouching and realized our actions were not sinister.
Incidentally, this was the first time we’d been to this park in more than 7 years of living in the area. It was like stepping into a Miyazaki film, which is what I love most about where we live.
Nestled in a huge tract of land, the focal points are an ancient, ornate water tower and mansion, which once served as a summer home and later a retreat for sick white women. I mention the white part because that was apparently a stipulation of the man who willed it to the Episcopalians in 1893. Part of this land is now home to a drug and alcohol rehab where I had a humbling speaking experience last summer. I had been asked to share my story at an on-site 12-step meeting, but was not prepared for the mostly black male audience.
I think of this as somehow full circle from the land’s intended purpose as a retreat for sick white ladies. I was sick from alcohol, afterall, and I am white. Sometimes I even still act a bit sick, especially if you see me crouching behind trees and scaring lady joggers. If you look beyond race and gender and afflictions, I was really just a person playing hide and go seek with with my kids in a spot of heaven on a perfect spring day. Nothing more, nothing less.