How about Tower of Pillows? Wyatt took my hand --how could I refuse? -- to lead me to his parents' room, which is where Tower of Pillows is played.
You tower me! he suggested. Wyatt is the one who decides who towers whom. Obediently, I piled pillows on top of him until he was more or less concealed, with just one little foot exposed.
Let's see, I began, how do I find my boy in the Tower of Pillows? The whole tower twitched a little: already the excitement was building. Oh, I see a foot! There must be an ankle somewhere. Not surprisingly, there was a knee above the ankle, and a little hand nearby, and then one shoulder. Two bright eyes met mine, and a smile as delighted as if this were the first time we'd done this, instead of the seventy-fourth.
It's dark here in the tower, I whispered.
Dark in here, he whispered back.
How are we going to get out?
We have to Break Out, he whispered.
One, two, I counted, three! Break Out!!!! And we exploded noisily out of the tower, pillows flying everywhere. We did it again, and again, and again. We probably did it thirty times. Sometimes he towered me. Sometimes he towered Nice Doggie, his stuffed companion. Sometimes he towered me and Nice Doggie, and sometimes all three of us went into the tower and Broke Out.
We often play Tower of Pillows while Wyatt's mother tutors in the next room. Her students all have language-based learning disabilities, and paying attention can be challenge for them. Once we were expelled for making too much noise there in the tower, and I had to take him out to the playground.
Children love hiding games so. So do the adults who love them. The suspense is irresistible, and it is mythic: the terrible fantasy of being separated from the beloved, unable to get home, all vanquished in a glorious moment of reunion -- There she is! There he is! We pretend our worst fear, the fear of abandonment. And then we pretend our liberation. We can create the archetypical journey from loneliness to love, the journey everyone wants to make. We can do it whenever we want to. This is a godly imagining, if ever there was one. It teaches us that we are not fated to our loneliness. We can change it, and we begin by imagining the change.
Because how do you get out? You break out!
AIDSWALK/NY is tomorrow. I am profoundly grateful to everyone who has supported my participation in this walk, which raises money for HIV/AIDS research and patient/family care, but I have yet to meet my goal. There is still time to do so by visiting my AIDSWALK page at
Or mail a check to me at 387 Middlesex Avenue, Metuchen, NJ 08840, made payable to AIDSWALK/NY. All donations are tax deductible.