Sometimes I can be scary

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.

The water tower near the tree I was hiding behind, and of course you can’t see me because I am an excellent hider.

14 thoughts on “Sometimes I can be scary

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  1. Loved this! I love that you were out having fun and goofing around and playing like a child! And I love that you saw someone out running yesterday–it was a big “run for Boston” day, and also a day for runners to wear race t-shirts to show support of the running community. If she was running, she was proud and strong and telling fear & terrorism to “F-Off”, so I’m sure you didn’t scare her. 😉 If you were crouched behind a tree, as a runner, she probably thought you were covertly grabbing a potty break, LOL.
    Thank you for the sweet mention!


      1. Fact–I had initially typed “peeing behind a tree”, but changed it to “potty” in case it was too much for you. LOL!

        I think that’s why she diverted from the path–to give you some privacy. 😀 Funny story!


  2. Dear Excellent Hider,
    Not difficult to imagine the game’s laughter. The participants’ future memories easily sparked by Spring, and parks, and Japanese animation, and love of family. These days, for me, every second of genuine living opens the possibility of positive and meaningful outcomes. One more day. And sober. I am so grateful. Thanks for writing/sharing.
    Learning Not To Hide Dad


    1. Always enjoy your comments, LNTHD. Your signature made me think about how I’m still learning not to hide. Hiding can be good sometimes. I still think there’s a healthy place for it outside of park settings.

      So lovely to read you’re enjoying and appreciating the good sober life.


  3. Great post! Reminded me of Monty Python’s sketch “How Not to be Seen”, ha ha. But I am most curious about that meeting you went to a spoke at – it must have been quite interesting – seeing how this disease is very much the same for all of us, regardless of our “Earth suits”. It doesn’t take long for one alcoholic to start nodding their heads in identification whenever another alcoholic starts telling their story. Powerful stuff indeed.

    Love the hide and seek. My kids always seem to win that game 🙂



    1. I wrote about that meeting, or at least mentioned it. I will dig it up right now.

      It is so long, I didn’t even re-read it, so don’t feel you need to.

      Now that almost a year has passed, I can honestly say I don’t feel my story offered any insight to anyone else in the room. Even if I’m 100% correct in that, I’m okay with it too. The experience was humbling, which is rarely (never?) a bad thing.

      Thanks for your comment.


  4. Great post and love the photo. Always love your photos.. I remember the one of your daughter jumping into a pile of leaves. You should take some more xxx


  5. Super story…

    Now that water tower is something special isn’t it.

    We have this near where I live…

    It is a water tower in the middle of a shopping centre car park… er… why? Actually the site was from the 50s through the 80s a large paper mill and the water tower was part of that (the roundabout is still known as “The Bowater’s roundabout”) when the site was sold to the supermarket they kept the water tower as it was such a well known local land mark…. although it looks decidedly odd!


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