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For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hide and Seek

It was a serious game.

From beyond the Cafeteria, past Guyton Hall, one could walk along a tree-lined road that led to Rebel Deli, Mr. Quik, Pizza Inn, Kiamie Bowling Lanes and more distant points of interest. Once you went down the embankment that marked the edge of the main campus, you were walking on a stretch of road of about a mile and a quarter, maybe a mile and a third in length.

To your left as you walked away from the campus was Faculty Housing and the Chancellor’s Residence, hidden behind scattered trees. To your right was a wooded area, home for future development not yet envisioned. Ahead of you was a long—tunnel—with a slight curve to the left. From both directions, you could see the headlights and hear the engine noise of oncoming vehicles.

Plenty of warning to hide.

That’s what I did. For every solitary late-night walk along that road, and there were many, I’d dive into the brush or run into the trees as cars came along. The idea was to cover the entire stretch of road without being seen once.

Sometimes cars came in waves, several at a time, so hiding became waiting for an opportunity to make some progress. At other times, hiding was basically a quick in, pause, then back out on the road to keep walking.

On one occasion, as I hid from a stream of Homecoming visitors, the Campus Police patrolled the Faculty area. From that side, I was visible, so I lay down atop cool pine needles, arms behind my head and waited them all out. I had time to write a story and once the busyness ended, I made it down the road unseen. Again.

A couple of times, my disappearing act was too slow, and cars would slow down near my spot, or even stop to figure out if man or beast had taken flight. Those were defeats, as burning in my chest as any other defeat.

When I knew I was leaving for good, I walked down the road one last time. I dodged and hid, the movements as easy as if rehearsed. As it came time to emerge from the darkness for the last time, I waited. Several minutes went by and finally, one last car rolled by. I watched it pass, then stepped out into the light.

The game was over.


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