“That’s Why I Kept Looking Back: to Make Sure You were Behind Me”

One Christmas, Joyce Hackett and her long-distance, trans-Atlantic boyfriend were at a park in Holland in the cold. The park was big, and they worried about getting lost in it, and so they followed another hiker. They did not want to disturb the other hiker’s walk, and in order to give him some privacy, they maintained a large distance between themselves and him, hoping that the other hiker might not even notice that they were following him. The hiker did notice them, however, and periodically he turned and faced them. Joyce worried, “We’re annoying him.” She also worried that the hiker might think they were stalking him. Unfortunately, a real chance of getting lost existed, and she and her boyfriend kept following the hiker. After a two-hour hike, the hiker, Joyce, and her boyfriend got back to the parking lot. Joyce and her boyfriend apologized to the hiker for following him, and they explained why they had followed him: They were afraid of getting lost in the park. The hiker replied, “I thought so. That’s why I kept looking back: to make sure you were behind me.” The hiker drove away, and Joyce and her boyfriend stayed in the car park for a while. Joyce said, “Wow.” Her boyfriend said, “Yeah.” Just then, Joyce and her boyfriend heard the sound of a car engine: The car was stuck in the snow. Joyce and her boyfriend went over to give the car a push. By the way, Joyce Hackett wrote the novel Disturbance of the Inner Ear, which is about healing from childhood trauma.

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