Plastic Lifestyles For The Scared
When I was nine I used to bike to the ugly playground behind the French immersion school, the slide was orange and warped in the middle and I hid in the warp. It was a good place to disappear. Children hide to explore new ideas, discover old toes, and bury unnecessary truths. I’ve hidden in boxes, under beds, behind trees and over head’s.
Of course, at some point your parents found you hidden away and you were happy to come out. Adults hide to be found, but quickly find out no one’s looking for them. We hide in bars, in relationships, in pharmaceuticals. Why aren’t there any warped slides that can hold a 22 year old with big feet?
Besides kicking gravel until someone comes looking, most of us hide as a form of self-escape. If we can put our bodies away, physically or otherwise, we can avoid being picked on by our own personality bullies. Drinking promises to mute your surroundings and over-develop your sense of forgiveness. Relationships disguise our worst traits as fleshy mirrors. In an effort to hide ourselves in the pockets of someone else, we inevitably end up dating the alter ego we were trying to avoid. Prescriptions open us up to an entirely different world of sanctuary. Chemical contentment creates a hiding place in the brain where actual emotions used to live. Just like we used to trick our parents into thinking we weren’t home while hiding in the basement, Paxil, Zoloft, Ritalin, and Cocaine trick our brain into believing we’re really happy. The only difference between a big dirt hole and a seedy night at the bar chased down by tinkling pills is the size of the hole.
Religion has long served as a hiding spot for disenchanted humans. With excellent costumes and cavernous buildings complete with secret tunnels, it’s like a spiritual disappearing orgy. Religion allows you to take on the guise of a greater spiritual being and you can hide yourself away as a member of the “community”. Inviting ghosts into your body lets you escape from sanity and being exorcised is probably a great way to run from modesty. If I can wear a sacred shroud over my head when the Telus bill comes or when Terasen threatens to shut off the gas, it might even be possible to hide from reality.
In such a small city it feels like genuine seclusion is impossible, every street corner is littered with recognizable faces, situations and delusions. The past is the most favourite plastic slide with people over the age of twenty. Repetition, nostalgia and patterns provide comfort the way a dark closet used to. We hide in the banality of established traits and tremble with fear at the idea of coming out into foreign surroundings. Change is the mother you’ve been avoiding because you’ve done something wrong.
Growth is a concept that bears the greasy shadow of punishment. We hide behind packs of friends we have nothing in common with, amongst droves of people who pretend to like the same music we pretend to like. We hide under jobs that don’t require effort or passion, inside degrees that don’t mean anything beyond a framed piece of paper. We’ve spent years crawling in the dark mud of uninspired lust, burrowing into the corners of boring relationships. We’ve tried shedding old skin to disappear under new scales only to find more skin underneath.
Granted the slide smelled a lot like children’s pee, foreign pee no less, but it held the world outside. It kept romantic notions from slaughter, devotion from disappointment and inspiration visceral. Whether it’s the plastic of a playground or the plastic of a lifestyle, hiding will always keep you safe from yourself.