I knew she was just being polite, but I wanted to ask for a check of her sanity. Brave? Me? Hardly. I had started out life afraid of the monsters in the closet, and the list of fears has only grown more imaginative and more detailed as I’ve grown up. I imagine horrible car accidents, plans dropping out of the sky, muggings in the parking lot. I could tell you every detail- what the air looked like, how they would find my body, the colors. I remember reading an interview with Stephen King where he was asked why he came up with such horrible scenarios and he answered that it was his own personal talisman- that if he could imagine these horrible things in such detail, there was no way they could ever happen to his family. I always liked that.
It is not that I am a brave person, I guess I just decided long ago that I wasn’t going to let my terror beat me.
I was terrified of heights, so I worked as a master electrician in theatre in college. A job guaranteed to force me to climb up to the ninety foot grid and dangle on precarious ladders and off harnesses.
I was terrified of meeting new people, so I became a teacher where I have to meet and interact with one hundred new parents and students every semester.
I was terrified of going outside of my comfort zone, my home, so I drove cross country by myself, having never driven further than my college which was two hours away.
The way I’ve coped is through contingencies. I MapQuest the hell out of everything and anything I can. I plan, I organize. But here’s the funny thing, that my friend Dion pointed out- for someone so anal, I do an awful lot of leaping before I look. When I was living in Atlanta, I wasn’t really happy with my job or my life. A friend in New York City offered to let me stay with him until I could get my feet under me. So I packed everything I had, put it in storage, bought a plane ticket and with a single duffel bag moved to Brooklyn within a week of that phone call. I didn’t even tell anyone I was leaving. I just left. Once I make my mind up about something I can be pretty quick with the decisions.
A perfect example- last night I was driving to Newport News so I could stay the night, because I had an early flight and didn’t want to fight morning rush hour around Norfolk. I had my printed directions, my map. And I got lost anyway. My dad laughs at me, because I always get lost, usually to the places I’ve been repeatedly. I still get lost when visiting friends at East Carolina University, and I went to school there for four years! Anyway, I’m lost, it’s dark (and I hate driving in the dark) and I panic. I hate not knowing where I am or what will happen. But then the logical part of me kicked in, referenced the encyclopedia in my head and remembered that Norfolk was all just routes of interstate 64 and if I stayed on this road, I would eventually get where I needed. So I did, and I did. Even made it to the hotel in the time MapQuest had said. Didn’t mean I wasn’t terrified at the time. Didn’t mean I didn’t want to turn around and go home (if I could even have found the direction home was in!)