When I was ten or so, I was in Europe with my grandparents and Aunt Sharon. On these trips, Sharon and I were always roomed together, which sometimes was fun but her moods could be quick to sour and I’d often end up sulking in my bed, wishing I was home. I was feeling particularly unloved and neglected one night — I think it was in Florence, maybe — so I decided to pretend like I was lost or kidnapped by gypsies. “They’ll all be sorry,” I thought bitterly. After dinner, I ran ahead of everyone and made it to the room before they had even stepped off the elevator. The windows in the room were blanketed by floor-length drapes and I slipped behind the heavy folds, making sure the tips of my toes weren’t peeking out.
It didn’t take long before Sharon made it back to the room and noticed my absence. I remember her leaving the room but I was determined to stay hidden. The excitement of the game had my bladder in a tizzy, and I had to press my thighs together to keep from leaking. What a way to spoil my ruse, am I right?
Soon, I could hear the harried voices of my grandparents, chastising Sharon for letting me run ahead of her. I could hear the dinging of the elevator and a British accent as our tour guide ran to join my family, probably all smooshed together in one big huddle of fear. Muffled voices melded together into a frenzied choir of panic and I hiccupped back my mischievious laughter. My chest swelled a little, relishing the idea of being sought after and missed. I heard Sharon run back into the room to retrieve something — maybe something she might have needed on the search and rescue mission, like a flashlight or a bag of crack to bargain with my gypsy captors — and I stumbled out from beneath the curtains in a fit of giddy laughter.
My prank was not as well-received as I would have liked, but instead met with roiling umbrage. Especially not since the tour guide had called hotel security.
I did this a few years ago, as a grown woman. Henry and I were at my mom’s for one of her summer cook outs and Henry wasn’t lavishing me with tongue-wagging attention, so I dramatically ran off with stomping feet. I stowed myself underneath the desk in the unused living room, my limbs tucked into my crouched body. I hid there for at least twenty minutes before Henry’s kids finally discovered me. (They, evidently, were also the only people looking for me.) The boys sat with me while I sniffled and sniveled, wailing that their father was an asshole who didn’t care about me, and they heartily agreed that they hated him as well. “He’s a fucker, we hate him too!” they lied, telling me what they knew I wanted to hear. A small part of me gloated.
Sometimes I still get this overwhelming desire to hide, to just dig a fucking trench in ‘Nam and lay in it until I die, maybe stuff a Ziplock bag with some uncooked tortellini and little tubs of jelly to prolong the process a little.