Hide and Seek

Okay here it is. Your choice. It’ s simple. Her or me. And I’m sure she’s really great. But Derek, I love you, in a really, really big—pretend to like your taste in music, let you eat the last piece of cheesecake, hold a radio over my head outside your window—unfortunate way that makes me hate you, love you. So pick me. Choose me. Love me. (Dr. Meredith Grey)

You pull into a mall parking lot on a busy Saturday afternoon. Swearing under your breath at the horrible timing of this errand, and the number of other people there, you anticipating circling lanes and burning gasoline for the next 30 minutes. Or parking half a mile away and trudging past idling cars’ exhaust to get to the entrance. With a sigh of acceptance, you turn into a lane near the front doors, knowing it will be the first of many lanes for you. Then, an oasis appears. The car ahead of you was not another seeking shopper, they were leaving. And right behind them is a parking spot for you. A shining diamond in the rough.

Heading into the stores, you have a few needs on the list but after the parking lot victory, decide to enjoy a bit of wandering on the way to your real destination. None of the clothes on the racks are ones you need, so instead you just enjoy the colors and imagine different events you would wear them to. There’s one or two that leave you shuddering, questioning what the designer was thinking. Who would possible wear this…thing. Just beyond the monstrosity is a top that you never knew that you always wanted. And a red tag sticker covers the original price. Peaking underneath, you are sold on this great deal. Clutched in your hand, it’s off to the counter you and your new treasure go.

An hour later, your shopping list is checked off. All the needs are taken care of, plus that one deal that you can’t wait to strut. Before heading back out to the real world, there is one last thing you want: a warm chocolate chip cookie. The perfect hit of sugar and comfort to get you in a great mood for the drive back home. A long line stretches ahead of you with no shortcuts or people willing to switch spots. The bakery case near the front is looking a bit sparse and workers’ hands keep reaching in and out. You focus on your phone to avoid counting customers and cookies. At last it is your turn. Leaning to the left you claim the final cookie in the case. The final cookie the store will have until tomorrow. The best cookie ever.

This fictional shopping trip had all of the great moments I’d love to have when I’m at the mall on a weekend (except for the whole mall on a weekend part because those crowds!!!). A parking spot, a sale item, and a cookie are small things in the scheme of things. In comparison to things like world peace, they could even seem meaningless.

And yet, we know they are not. Finding those unexpected joys can mean everything. Really, adults are constantly playing a game of hide and seek. We are looking for the things we need and hoping for the things we want. And sometimes we are the ones who are hiding and need to be found. Maybe by a true love who is kind and brave. Or by a boss who sees our potential for promotion and leadership. Or by a child who calls out “Mommy” or “Daddy” to us in a room full of big people.

If you have not before, I recommend that you play hide and seek with a toddler soon. First off, they are horrible hiders so you will “win” really easily. Their preschool minds figure that if they can’t see you because of the blanket over their head, then you can’t see the legs sticking out. And second, when you start to get close, they begin to giggle with anticipation. Wondering how long they can trick you for. And hoping to be caught and to play again and again and again.

Adults want to be found too. But not by just anyone. After a while of no the right person pursuing us, it’s easy to bury down lower, to add extra blankets, and to even turn out the lights so no one will accidentally find you. You don’t want anyone to find you unless they’re It.

Hide and Seek. Simple enough for toddlers and big people.

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