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|Who Do You Think You Are? - Page 2|
But all of that occurred to me later. In that moment I knew only: I'm safe. Noiselessly, I crept into my bedroom and closed the door. I attempted a few ordinary activities—gathering laundry, making the bed—that would allow me to feel like "myself" again. But my heart was still knocking. No amount of routine chore-doing could change what had just happened: I'd just charged up the steps at lightning speed to escape my daughter's friends. Look at you, a voice inside me whispered. You're a grown woman with a husband and a young adult daughter. You're a homeowner, a writer of books, a crack filler-outer of financial-aid applications. You could not have just done this.
But it seemed that I had.
I had some partial glimmer of what was going on. Even as I fled the dining room, some part of me flashed on a tight huddle of preteen girls on a playground, giggling under the hard sunlight of noon recess. I saw myself approaching, heard the talk dissolve into whispers and then amp up into hooting laughter, whereupon, at some invisible signal, the girls turned and dashed away. It went on like this for four years—my persistent, helpless courting, their predictable, gleeful rejection. Now, decades later, I sprinted up the steps of my house and felt terror and grief rise up in my throat.
The truth is, I'm no stranger to running. I've done it a number of times before, though until that afternoon, I'd generally made my getaways on a smaller, less dramatic scale. Whenever I'd beat a hasty retreat, usually from other people, my customary response was to turn on myself afterward in shame and disgust. But this time, I didn't. Maybe the sheer extremity of my flight from the dining room—the raw, biological force of it—interrupted my usual descent into self-recrimination. The experience felt elemental, even cellular. I understood that I wasn't in control. I was filled with a sense of mystery, and then curiosity. What could make me do this?