I have the perfect hideout inside my head. Or possibly my heart. Or even my spleen (but not my tonsils or my appendix, which are long gone). I’ve never felt the need to locate it exactly – would it be seemly to nit-pick about those gifts bestowed upon us by the gods? – but I know it’s there, instantly accessible and closed to all but me.
I recognised the existence of this hideout when I was four. I can say that with absolute certainty because I remember the moment. My mum was walking me to school – or perhaps I should say running me to school, she was definitely in a hurry. We were on our way down the slight hill between Faulkner and Dangar Sts on an unpaved footpath similar in texture to a clay tennis court and bordered by bunchy straggles of grass, when the realisation popped into my head: nobody knows what’s going on inside me unless I tell them.
I discussed this concept later with my dad, sitting on his knee after dinner, and he explained that this was all down to my unique individuality. I sort of got it – nobody else is exactly the same as me – but the big excitement for me was knowing that the kids making my life a misery at school couldn’t know what I was thinking: that part of me was inaccessible to them. What a relief!
There are two sides to everything, of course. Hiding out in your head is not exactly sociable. But it’s stood me in good stead over the years, and it’s a bit late to castigate myself over the possibility that spilling my guts on occasion might have made life easier. Can’t imagine it, though. I would have felt so STUPID!