I’m Kind of Funny That Way

Today, the kids and I rolled back our sleeves and started to work around the yard to clear out the remainder of last fall and winter and find the Earth and welcome in spring.

True, spring technically started two months ago.  However, with all the cold that has dug into the soil, planting my tomatoes that I have growing in little peat pots on my kitchen table would only result in me buying more tomatoes.  Of course, we won’t go into the failures that are currently dying on my front porch…

As the Girl and I were walking the lawn mower around the back yard, I noticed a heavy concentration of water around the hose.  I checked the faucet and it was a bit loose.  And, if the water had been going all week, that would explain the lovely mud.  At the same time, I realized that the water also might be coming from the pipes under the house.

This winter, the pipes froze at least once.  Although the water pressure has never altered since then and I’ve seen no evidence of leaks or water damage…still, the idea of water just pouring out under the house (and, yes, I’ve paid my water bills which have also not shown any sudden rise in output/usage) was rather un-nerving.

The problem is that in order to check the pipes, I would have to go under the house, in the crawl space, which is very dark and closed in and….not a good place for a woman who suffers from a mild form of claustrophobia.

I can sort of handle elevators, so long as a whole stack of people aren’t in them.  When I visit my parents in Florida, I’m in an elevator multiple times a day and it doesn’t make an impression on me.  Don’t get it.  No windows, just metal walls and a light that tells me what floor I’m on.  I guess it helps that the elevator is rarely full.

Once, after graduation, I rode an elevator to get to the car.  This elevator was glass with views outside.  But twenty or more people packed in and I was pressed against the wall with all these people who, with best intentions, stared at me and shouted advice at me which made me feel like I was in the spotlight which just made the pressure of all these bodies and the glass walls that much more palpable.  If I could just stare out the window and practice Lamaze breathing, I would be fine.  But not with everyone watching me and mimicking my actions (at least in my perception) while counting down the floors we needed to rise.  Again, good intentions.  Very good intentions.

My claustrophobia really came into play when my parents and I explored an underground cavern in Austria or Switzerland when I was in high school.  I was fine…not really thinking about what was going on and just enjoying the easy path and the light illuminating the walls and the beautiful cave formations.  And then we entered this massive cavern and we had to scale a ladder in order to get to a walkway.  All right.  Let’s go.

But as I was going up the ladder and about to reach the platform at the top, someone took a picture with a flashbulb that momentarily blinded me.  And I think my foot slipped a little on the ladder.  All I know is that I was suddenly positive that the mountain was going to collapse on me and I was going to die.

I never really experienced the sensation that the walls were closing in on me.  I just know that in looking up at the ceiling of this cavern which might have been fifty or more feet high, I was convinced that I was going to die in a rock fall that was going to crush me.

I hid my surging panic, managed to wait the time it took for my parents to see whatever it was they wanted to see.  As I search my memories for thoughts and impressions, I literally have none.  I can’t remember anything but the flashbulb and the sudden panic.

We went back down the ladder and started going on our reverse journey to the surface.  I remember this part because I was nearly jogging to get to the door that would enable me to escape from my tomb.  I remember Mom remaking on my speed which would have taken my parents by surprise because the closest thing I got towards exercise was lifting the dining implement to my mouth for yet another bite.  Or turning a page in a book.  Okay, I exaggerate.  I was an excellent channel changer.

When we reached the mouth of the cave and I was finally outside, I remember the pressure lifting off my chest.  In my faulty memory, I think it was cool and rainy.  Doesn’t matter.  What I clearly remember is my mom wondering if I was claustrophobic.

Today, the panic of opening the crawl space door was so bad, I couldn’t even do it.  My mind was convinced that a huge snake was on the other side of the splitting, warped plywood door.  Fortunately, my blessed son took a break from weed whacking, grabbed a flashlight, flipped back the lock, and opened the door.

And there were the spiders.

I hate spiders.  I am actually not afraid of snakes.  But I really hate spiders.  I used to think I had a phobia about spiders but I forced myself to get over that fear.  I can’t get over my fear of that crappy crawl space, though.

But, the Boy, bless him, took the flashlight, darted under the house, and checked to see if water was everywhere.  I couldn’t even stand and look at the small square that led into my house’s guts. I couldn’t be close to the dark, cold tiny cavern.

Ironically, there was no snake under the house…not that I was really afraid of the snake.  I think I was afraid of the idea of being under the house and trapped and not being able to get away if a snake (especially a poisonous one) was there.  If anything, within an hour of the Boy declaring the crawl space dry and secure, I found a snake right by my front-garden.  And as opposed to being terrified and going through an anxiety attack that would have resulted in histrionic hyperventilating, I called the Boy over to me and we spent time analyzing the snake to see if it was venomous.   We don’t think it was.

We flipped over rocks to get a closer look and talked about how we would catch it.  No fear.  No anxiety.

I’m just kind of funny that way.

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