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Janis Jaquith
janis@radioessays.com
462 words

MY HIDING PLACE

When I was real little, one of my favorite things to do was hide. The best hiding place was inside the laundry hamper. In there, the sheets and clothes would muffle the outside world, and I could hear myself think.

I guess I never totally grew up, because, once again, the outside world is more than I can take. But the kind of hideout I need right now is a place where I CAN'T hear myself think.

I want to curl up in a place where there's no such word as "terrorist" or "Anthrax". Someplace where there isn't any trouble.

On September 19th, I went to Paris to visit a friend, but Paris wasn't much of a hiding place. I'd wander around the city all day long - from churches to monuments to museums - and suddenly find myself crying.

And then one evening, Florence, the friend I was visiting, asked me to meet her and her husband in front of the new Paris Opera. I thought we were meeting so we could all go out to dinner somewhere. Well, I was wrong. When I got there, Florence grinned and fanned out her three tickets to a performance of Rigoletto - a performance that was just about to begin.

We settled into our seats, and I spent the entire evening swaddled in music so exquisitely beautiful that it felt like it was arising from within - imagine deep meditation manifesting as music. It's too beautiful for this world.

It was at the beginning of the opera, when the duke started singing those first few bars of "La donna è mobile", when I woke up inside this dream and realized that I had found it - I was inside the perfect hiding place.

Among my souvenirs of Paris are CDs that I bought at the Opera - a collection of the most dreamlike music imaginable. If my soul has a soundtrack, this is what it sounds like. I suppose that's exactly what I've been looking for - a hiding-place inside my own soul.

So this is what I've been doing since I got back home: I listen to the news for as long as I can stand it, and then I retreat into my new hiding place - into the happy labyrinth of classical music where I can hardly think about anything else.

When it's all too much, when I just can't take it anymore, I crawl right into Rigoletto, or La Bohème, or The Magic Flute, and inhabit that world for a while.

Sometimes, I think I'd like to stay there forever, or at least until this world makes sense again.


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