I witnessed a car accident today. Well, I didn’t so much witness it as I did hear it, that horrible crack of steel on steel, and spun around to see that a pickup truck had just smashed into the side of this other smaller car in the middle of a busy intersection. I was a pedestrian when this happened, and as such I was able to linger from a safe distance, crane my neck a bit and make sure that no one was hurt, but regardless this event did remind me of how terrified I am of being in a car wreck. It’s one of those fears that I rarely think about, but at any given moment it can creep up on me. When I am pulling out of an intersection, making a simple right turn, I’ll imagine a car ramming into me at full speed. I will imagine this even if I am the only car on the road, which leads me to believe it is a fairly irrational fear.
This is not my only irrational fear. I am also afraid to travel abroad. Did you know this about me? It’s true, and it’s not really that I am afraid of terrorism or anti-American sentimentality; mostly I am just afraid that I would lose my passport and any kind of proof that I am an American, and that I wouldn’t be able to get back into our country. I can trace to the root cause of this fear with embarassing accuracy: Brokedown Palace. You know, that really awful movie from the late ’90s starring Claire Danes as a spoiled American college student who goes on spring break with one of her friends and ends up in a foreign prison that is equal parts depressing and brutal, and no effort by their American lawyer can get them released.
One of my best friends is traveling in Ecuador right now and would assure me that such fears are completely unwarranted, I’m sure.
She is probably right.
I am also afraid of swallowing a pin. I was a pen chewer most of my life, but now that I work in an office I find myself occasionally chewing on the blunt end of a stick pin. After doing this for a bit I will start thinking, “What if something bumped me and I accidentally swallowed this pin?” I will imagine it going down my throat, into my stomach, and through my intestines, scratching up my insides when not ripping through them completely. It’s DISGUSTING, but even as I imagine it happening it takes a few minutes to convince myself to take the pin out from between my lips and put it back into the wall of my cubicle (oh, Gwen, that wonderful crunching sound!) Anyway, am I weird? We all have fears, right? I don’t let my fears control me. I still drive my car with confidence. I still take an occasional trip and will some day travel to another continent. I still use stick pins at the office for both their intended and unintended functions. Life continues.
Hey, it does. Life continues.