These past few months, I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding. Especially from people. People I do not want to see.
The bad thing about returning to the small town you grew up in is that you’re going to run into people you know. Constantly. Old teachers, neighbors, former coworkers, “friends” from high school, parents of “friends” from high school, random people who went to school with your sisters’ 25 years ago and happen to think you are them… the list is rather lengthy, so I will spare you.
The problem with running into people I know is… that… I don’t want to. I really, really, really do not want to. Because if I run into you, you will want to know “what I’ve been up to”. Nothing. I have been up to nothing. Seriously. There is absolutely nothing new in my life. I’m not that interesting. And I have laundry detergent and grapes to get so, if you would kindly get out of my way, that’d be great.
But, of course, I can’t say that. And of course, they’d never buy it. Sure, I haven’t seen you in 10+ years but that doesn’t mean I’ve been up to anything… Um, no. You’ve surely been up to something. Even if it’s just running a meth lab out of your basement. Things have changed since we last saw each other. It’s inevitable.
I’d love to respond with something hysterically immature like, “It’s none of your beeswax” or “Yeah, I can’t really talk right now because I never liked you” but none of those are an option. I mean, they are, but not for me. I’m too nice. I’ll think all these things in my head, but I will never, ever say them. And since I’m not going to say these things, I may as well tell you the truth. But, what is the truth? I’ve been finding myself conveniently skipping over the whole marriage chapter of my life and talking solely about career. And then if they pry further, I’ll either say something cryptic like, “Well, I find myself suddenly single” or “Yeah, my personal life kind of… imploded” or just deny and say “Yeah, I’m married. It’s good. Nope. No kids… not yet!” The thing is, if I haven’t seen you in 10+ years… it’s really none of your business. So, can we just stick to the weather? Or your parents’ health? Seriously, I’m begging you.
This is not an option in a small town. It really isn’t. There’s so much gossip, and everyone knows everything about everyone else, so if you run into someone, they need the scoop so they can pass it along to all their friends and eventually everyone will know about your current circumstance and everyone will stop asking. BUT, since I really don’t want to deal with the hassle or the awkwardness, I’ve been hiding from people. It’s quite simple really.
First of all, you become hyper aware of the makes and models of cars people drive. If you see that make and model in a parking lot, you do not proceed any further until that car is gone.
Secondly, you always enter and exit stores with your head down. You do not look anyone straight in the eye. Even if it’s your own mother. Your own mother won’t even recognize you if you don’t give her the opportunity to. You see someone you know? You put your head down and move past quickly, pretending like you never saw them. They won’t call out to you. They’re still trying to figure out if you are who they think you are.
Thirdly, no matter what kind of errand needs running, you are in and out like a flash. No dilly-dallying. No “browsing”. You get what you need and you get out. You move quickly and with purpose. Even the store clerk won’t remember you.
Lastly, if you can, a disguise is always helpful. I’m not talking fake glasses and a mustache… although… kudos to you if you can pull that off. A ball cap and glasses will suffice. It’s amazing how people don’t recognize you without your hair showing and your eyes encircled by frames. I actually had my old history teacher wait on me at a restaurant, and with my ball cap and glasses on, he didn’t give me a second glance. It was awesome.
So, yeah. You could say I’ve become pretty adept at hiding. For right now, it keeps the nosy gossips away and gives me peace of mind. Heck, maybe in a few months I’ll be able to go shopping like a normal person and just tell everyone my ass hat story with a smile.