Friday, 2 October 2009

Of Rabbit Holes and Giant Shoes

You could say that this is my special place now: inside a Pola frame.

I've had many hideouts over the years - real physical places. Forest clearings and remote valleys, hen coops, tree tops, overgrown gardens, deserted houses and broken-down cars. There were places I had to crawl into through brambles and nettles, places I had to climb up to or break into when noone was looking. And I was forever hollowing out bunkers in the middle of haystacks; even now, that sweet dusty summer scent still sends an instant bolt of joy to my heart. I've just always loved hiding places. That feeling of being untraceable and unreachable, always having a secret rabbit hole to tumble into, always having the power to slip beyond the clutches of the everyday world.

But it seems as though there are no such places left for me to run to now - not in the physical world, anyway. And I think it all has something to do with growing up. I mean, I dread to think how a farmer would react today if he found me - a fully-grown lady - bunkered in his haystack. After a certain age, you can't just wander off and hide from life. It's not the done thing.

When you're a kid, you think people won't be able to lord it over you when you get older. You think you'll finally have all the freedoms you yearn for. You'll eat ice-cream for breakfast and live in a giant shoe with a robot and a baby giraffe. But when you grow up, you discover that the reverse is the case. You find out that there's actually even more stuff you're not supposed to do - and now you're not even supposed to feel like doing it anymore.

Grown-ups are so devious. They turn you into one of them and then they die.

But anyway, just because I'm one of them now, it doesn't follow that I no longer want or need my hideouts. In fact, I can think of a multitude of things I don't ever intend to grow out of. I want the best of both worlds. I want the car keys and the credit cards as well as the giant shoe, the robot and the baby giraffe. I don't actually care if that's odd.

And that's why I keep running into this little white square. It's my kingdom, my secret garden, my fortress against the world. It's the only place I have left to run to. And in my Polaroid Wonderland, even though I've grown tall enough to reach the key, I'm somehow still small enough to fit through the door; only I can get in; they can't get me, you can't get me, and the person I was meant to turn into can't ever get me there.

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