I first started hiding in my bedroom closet when I was four, I think.
It wasn’t my first hiding attempt. That began when I started to see. When I was born they thought I was completely blind. It wasn’t for months before they realized that I could sort of see, just in a blurry way in which there were four copies of everything, four versions of the same truth, I guess.
Before my eye operation, I’d push myself against walls, crawl behind the couch or toddle there, feeling the scratchy fabric behind my hands. It happened at night too. I’d get in my bed after Mom kissed me goodnight and I’d pile all my stuffed animals around me and then pull the covers tightly up over my head.
“I am a nothing girl,” I would whisper. “I am nothing. Nobody can find me. Nobody can find me.”
I thought that this was a genius hiding space when I was four, and that makes sense because I was young and stupid, but what doesn’t make sense is how I sometimes still hide there, sometimes.
When I was four and murmuring
In the closet
Because it was darker than the bed
With walls around me.
My mother’s voice
Rattled through the house
Calling my name
Screaming it eventually
Panicked beyond belief
And I sat there behind the clothes
Hand me downs
Of other kids’ better lives.
She found me
I made a noise or something
Giving myself away
And she found me there
Huddled up and crying
“Why are you crying, honey,”
she screamed, no she sang, no
she whispered. “Why are you crying?”
“I’m a nothing girl,” I whispered,
no shouted, no spoke, no screamed.
“I’m a nothing.”
And she bundled
me into her
arms and said, “No,
no you’re not,”
which of course
was exactly the wrong
thing to say.
There are certain things you are supposed to be afraid of when you’re little – normal things, right?
Spiders coming out of dead people.
Dead people coming out of spiders.
But I was afraid of being – just being – being alive – being noticed. Being.
Jamie, one of the main characters in the TIME STOPPERS series is a lot like this, too. Albeit for different reasons – his fake family are trolls.
I think a lot of us have to deal with trolls in one way or another. It can make us hide.
Almost every Wednesday, I go to my Rotary club’s meeting and then that night, I head to one of my friends’ houses where people gather to hang out. Some people play poker. Some people knit. Some people run around with their kids. Everyone eats.
This Wednesday, I wore a big orange necklace on top of my typical L.L. Bean navy crew sweater. Everyone mentioned it. And I decided to be honest and say, “Look. I realize that I like to blend in. I sit on the floor sometimes. I wear all dark clothes. I hide behind a camera and take pictures. This is my first step in trying to be brave. This necklace. I’m trying not to hide.”
And everyone was “cool.” Because if you’re even going to notice something like that, you’re probably going to be supportive.
There’s this weird thing about writers, we communicate through our stories, but we also can hide behind those stories. We put the words out there, hope someone notices because writing is a lot of effort and it is horrible when you create something, try to communicate something, and nobody responds.
But at the same time, you can’t control other people’s reactions to you, to your story. And I’ve spent my whole life so afraid of people’s reactions, of them hurting me, that I hide.
I’m pretty sure that’s got to stop one necklace, one blog post, one podcast at a time.
This picture is a big deal for me because I’m actually not wearing a sweater. I have worn sweaters in Mexico in July. I wore a sweater while having a baby. Seriously. Issues here, people. 🙂
What do you try to hide?
How can you show someone that you see them? What can you do?
Random Other Writing and Work News:
Due to a glitch in distribution, I think – I honestly can’t remember – the pub date for THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID, has been moved back to March? You can preorder it here or anywhere. It’s an anthology that I have a piece in.
I’m starting a podcast. The landing page will be here and also on my website and in all those typical podcast places, hopefully. It will be raw. It will be quirky because seriously… look at me… I don’t know how to be normal.
What do you like about podcasts? What do you hate? I’ll try not to do the hate things.
Also, on my website are the stories of how my books like the NEED series or TIME STOPPERS came into being, how I paint to get more into my stories, or more info about me and all that stuff that’s supposed to be on websites.
My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who was a spy, is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it.
And there you go, Friday’s blog post, which runs counter to be impulse to be invisible. Please let me know if you’ve checked it out. I hope you have an amazing, wonderful weekend where you shout out who you are to the world and the world loves you for it.