Scrunched up against one side of an otherwise open public space near our house is a small dense stand of birch trees. There is a dirt trail running beside it that is heavily trafficked by people like me walking their dogs or, jogging, or taking a shortcut across to the local shopping centre.
The trees are also just across the main road from our local high school, and I often see young kids and young adults dissapearing off along a rough side trail into the thick of it.
Out of inquisitiveness, I decided to check out the area. I suspected it was some sort of hidden meeting place but I had no idea what lay hidden in plain sight.
A definite secret space. And some effort has been made in its construction. Items foraged (I hesitate to say stolen) from the surrounds and used to construct a small open room with walls and an ornate entrance. Fully furnished no less.
Some have, it seems, attempted to keep it neat and tidy with attempts at decoration and evidence of rubbish collection. Others it seems are less interested in cleanliness, their activities giving a shabby overlay to the whole room.
Nevertheless, a perfect hidden place for these high schoolers to get up to all the activities and conversations that are required when hidden in plain sight.
When I was a kid, my friends and I had a similar place. Ours was a super neat cave we constructed with a hidden crawlspace entrance that opened into a dimly lit womb stocked with essential supplies of biscuits, candles, chocolate and Playboy magazines.
A fortress of solitude until one sad day it was discovered by grown-ups and soon demolished. All trace of its delicious secrecy obliterated.
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