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In many ways, I feel like I’ve been in hiding my whole life, often in plain sight.

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time alone inside my bedroom closet, hiding.

It didn’t matter which bedroom I was sleeping in at the time – with six sisters and three brothers we rotated bedrooms and occupants; I guess to keep things fair – so I always staked out the closet as my territory. It was the only place I could hide from all of my siblings, my parents and anyone else who I did not wish to be around.

The best closets were the deeper ones, ones that I could squirrel away in and count on not being found. If the closet was big enough, I would set it up like a fort with a lamp, some pillows, a blanket and a few of my stuffed animals. Sometimes I would take a book in with me to read, but most often I would just sit there alone in the dark and talk to myself. About what I couldn’t tell you, though if I had to guess I was probably wondering aloud about the usual things I obsessed about back then, like why are we here?

In any case, I know that I enjoyed my own company enough to think of it as my respite from the world. I would hide so others wouldn’t find me but in reality, that’s probably where I found myself.

If more than one of us who happened to be sharing the same room at the time, were grounded for whatever reason and sent to our room, I would either turn my top bunk (I always slept on the top bunk) into a fort using blankets to try and remain hidden and left alone, or else I’d climb out the window out onto the roof above the porch, and sit there listening to the birds (instead of my sisters) for hours until we were told we could all come back downstairs.

I took this picture to serve as a reminder of what a lovely spot that was for me, just before my parent’s sold the house many years later.

But when the weather allowed, I would opt to hide out in the woods instead. I would have to tell my mother where I’d be first, but once inside my favorite hollowed out tree, I felt completely hidden from the outside world which is generally how I preferred it.

I spent so much of my early life hiding that looking back on it now has me wondering if something was wrong with me because I know that if either of my two children acted in the same way that I did, I would be worried.

But the further along I get with this blog, the more I have come to understand what I never understood before.

Hiding isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se. In fact, “Hiding is underestimated… Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control.” -David Whyte Consolations

I see now that hiding became necessary for me as a way for me to unplug from the rest of the world that so often overwhelmed me so that I could get in touch with my feelings that at the time were all over the map.

Even as an adult I still like to hide. I still need to hide from time to time, and I still sit alone in my closet, the only difference is now that’s where I meditate.

Once I had kids and then made the decision to homeschool them while also working from home I found myself once again needing a break from feeling constantly overwhelmed. The option to hide in closets was no longer an option, but once and a while my husband would agree to take care of the kids for the weekend or sometimes longer so I could be alone for a time.

I would rent a cheap hotel near some great hiking trails and hide away for the weekend dreaming of what I envisioned for the rest of my life. I would order take-out so I didn’t have to be around strangers and dine alone while hiding in my dingy room making lists of all the things I wanted for myself and my family in the future as a way to keep me occupied.

During my first solo trip, I came up with my top ten list of what I wanted my life to look like in five years and then ten. Astonishing no one more than myself, every single thing I had written down on that list became a reality a short time later.

Of the few things on that list that I still remember having written down was that I would have a new house with a good amount of land near some woods, and it would have fruit trees and a large garden, and wild birds would visit me every day. I would also have had my vision corrected (laser surgery) and I would finally fulfill my lifelong dream to go to Africa.

Of course, none of these things were simply handed to me, my husband and I worked very hard to accomplish all of that and more. But it was the time I spent alone hiding from the extraordinary pressures of the outside world that sparked that fire inside me. It needed to be kindled and required a lot of time and patience to keep it going, but eventually, we got there – together.

As my kids got older, my weekends away morphed into longer and longer stretches. First, a week at a cottage on the beach, followed by another week there a few years later, and then more than two weeks alone in Africa.

The first time I went to the beach without my family, I spent the entire first day feeling guilty for having left them behind. I was renting the same cottage in Cape Cod we had vacationed at as a family, so the memories flooded in the moment I opened the creaky old wooden door.

Everywhere I looked told a story, so instead of diving headfirst into one of the many books I’d brought along to keep me company, I just sat back, looked around and replayed our precious home movies in my mind.

There was no television, and no good stations on the radio (this was back before cell phones and laptops and the like) but I was perfectly happy during those first few hours to just crack open the sticky, salty old windows and sit in the silence watching the curtains be sucked in and out against the screens as I listened to the waves crashing on the beach beckoning to me.

Sadly, even when you’re hiding from the rest of the world time still finds you and before I knew it my week was coming to a close. My last night there, I decided to make a small fire on the beach, something I’d been too nervous to do before that night.

I hauled the small pile of wood that I had taken with me down to the beach and within minutes it was ablaze just as the sun was beginning to set.

It was a hot night for late June, and I was tempted to go skinny dipping, but a couple of other fires dotting the beach not too far away gave me second thoughts about exposing myself.

I remember sitting there in what felt like a state of grace, watching the flames shoot up from the fire, and the waves crashing on the shore as the stars grew brighter in the sky and thinking to myself, this is what it’s all about.

I was surrounded by every element: the earth, the water, the wind and the fire, and I felt such an incredible rush that it felt safe to come out of hiding, so I removed my tee shirt and leaned back in my beach chair to stare up at the stars without that barrier between us.

I had gone there alone, seeking solace from the demands of my life and at that moment I felt a sense of peace wash over me, unlike anything I’d ever felt before or since.

I remember closing my eyes and offering up a prayer of thanks to the universe, and when I opened them again, I caught a brief flicker of movement just beyond my periphery which startled me enough to sit upright.

That’s when with the help of the firelight I saw the coyote. It was not my first close encounter with one, so there was no part of me that thought to panic even as it began to move closer to me.

It was curious and moved cautiously, making one complete circle around me before going on its way.

It was exhilarating and left me breathless. I felt more alive at that moment then I had for a very long time.

“We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others.” -David Whyte Consolations

Hiding out alone in the dark half naked on the beach that night not only reconnected me to nature it reconnected me to my soul. It was the reunion I’d been longing for. The old me had been washed away with the tides, and I sensed something new was getting ready to emerge.

I was a clean slate ready to come out of hiding, ready to be written on again.




About Amy

I am many things to many people. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend. I am a worshiper of nature on a journey inward, rewriting my story one word at a time.

3 Replies

  1. Jeff

    You were definitely a changed women when you came back from that trip!all for the good that is!! Keep up the great writing! Love you!

  2. Linda

    Again Amy, beautifully written!!
    Thanks for sharing!! Love you!!

    1. In a wild coincidence (?) I had a coyote jog out onto the trail about 50′ ahead of me and the dogs this afternoon while I was out walking them. The coyote seemed unfazed by us, but I was thankful I’d put their shock collars on and that it only took one zap for them to listen. I haven’t seen one in a long time, so it felt like a wink from the universe. 🙂

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