It is Monday morning. With just a hint of early morning light pushing out the darkness, my eyes focus on the slats of the loft above me. It is above these slats that I am supposed to sleep, but I do not. Instead I use the loft for storage and sleep on a futon below surrounded by walls on two sides and an overflowing bookshelf on another. In this enclosed space I feel safe and calm.
As an adult I chose this space, but as a child I spent a great deal of my time hiding in a closet. It was a tiny closet filled with an array of old clothes, broken toys and a small stash of items that could have easily been mistaken for trash. To my 5-year-old self these items represented a set of tools that seemed essential to my survival. One flashlight with extra batteries, a small pink journal with a tiny lock that refused to stay latched, a few colored pencils with dull points, a tattered Boy Scout manual rescued from the garbage, a box of saltine crackers for long stays, a large stack of National Geographic Magazines and my imagination. No matter where I go, the memories from that closet will always be with me.
While dampening the sound of words that a child was never meant to hear, it also provided a place for a quiet, lonely child to explore words of a different sort, the kind that educate and open a person up to possibilities. As I hid in that closet I studied picture after picture of far off lands full of people that were at once like me and yet so different. I made up stories about them and allowed myself to be transported far away from where I was.
Recent events have reminded me of the child I was and how the events of my childhood shaped the person I am today. I may have replaced the flashlight with a reading lamp but I still have my journal, magazines and imagination. As I look up at the slats above me I wonder what adventures await me today.
About the author: Amie Baker no longer hides in closets but on Twitter @Amie_Wanders. She also studies anthropology, writes, travels and creates art.