Monday, March 23, 2009

Life is a Long Road...and Fear is a Road Map

I don’t feel fear often. When I do I am usually on the Beltway just a couple of tailgaters shy of an all out panic attack. If I am alone I might roll up the windows and scream. I did that once. I was driving up from Florida and I hit Richmond at rush hour. I was so tired I was seeing double. The day had begun in Georgia where I’d driven for an hour in a fog so thick I couldn’t see the front of the Chrysler New Yorker. It had been my Uncle Paul’s car. Aunt Gladys had decided to give it to me – along with a backseat full of philodendrons, some Ann Murray eight tracks and a case of pear preserves. There might have been some vinyl records in the back seat too. The trunk was empty except the catalytic converter that Paul had removed from the Chrysler. I was afraid to drive from Jupiter, Florida to Washington, DC alone. But I wanted a car. I didn’t need a car, but I wanted one. Like I was saying, I got to Richmond at rush hour. 95 was full of homeward bound maniacs with some kind of a death wish – all going 80 miles an hour or so it seemed. I rolled up the windows and just screamed. I screamed until I was hoarse. If the other drivers noticed they probably just thought I was singing along with whatever the dj on WNOR was playing. I was surprised when I left Richmond behind and I was still alive. My next challenge was going to be navigating my way though DC traffic and snaking my way to 25th and Q Street. When our apartment building finally came into view I was so grateful I cried. Maybe that was why I misjudged the length of the Chrysler and “tapped” the VW behind me as I tried to parallel park on P Street. I pulled out and drive a few blocks east until I found a spot big enough to just glide into. I left philodendrons, eight tracks and preserves in the car and headed back to our apartment building. It was days before I retrieved the stuff from the backseat.

I felt fear the time a couple of kids pointed guns at me outside of RFK Stadium. I felt fear, but my external response was to laugh uncontrollably. I’ve never understood that. I felt a little fear the day I lowered the Boston Whaler into the water without replacing the bilge plug. Luckily I was standing close enough to the lift switch to raise the boat before it sank.

I felt fear in a plane once. We flew through an awful storm. Buffeted by wind. Lightning. Nuns praying. Babies crying. Flight Attendants strapped in. I was feeling fear. I was feeling helpless. Powerless. Which is what always accompanies my fear.



Blogger GW said...

I can relate to the feelings of having people tailgating you! I was rear-ended by someone going 50mph while I was stopped and waiting to turn left. Now it makes me very nervous to be tailgated or to be the passenger in a car when the driver's getting too close to the car ahead of us.

As for your laughing down the barrel of a gun, you must be like those Stephen King characters who begin giggling uncontrollably when faced with all manner of stresses. ;)

9:43 AM  

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