Today I’m thinking about fear. Well, technically right now I’m thinking about fear because today I’m thinking about a million, billion things that are coursing around bumping into each other (I had coffee – a tiny cup – but enough to cause unusual collisions and a bit of manic energy). I’m thinking about random conversations, thinking about the fact that everyone has a story and if we could connect with what is real in each person and help that person connect with what is real inside themselves then life could be less scary, fuller, more connected.

Should I write about fear first? I’ve thought to write about my morning – how it feels that, even with a big chunk of time, I can’t get anything done. I have a list (well, currently more of an association of papers with notes written on notes and old receipts and random post-its stuck in different places) and I’ve given myself ‘the talk’. Ok, just look at the items one at a time and don’t move on to a new one until you finish the one in front. But I’m driving around like a headless chicken not getting anywhere.

Can I interrupt myself, just to provide a little personal flavor, and let you know that I am sitting in my car, parked somewhat illegally (it is questionable, a gray area), typing this in the driver’s seat with my seat pushed back as far as it can go but the screen is propped up against the steering wheel and my hands are at a somewhat awkward angle. Why? Well, my kid (one of them) is at home with a sitter so clearly I can’t be there. It costs $20/day to park at my office and I’m not going in today, so that’s an unappealing option. And I was afraid if I drove to a café a) I would consume more caffeine (bad bad idea) or sugar (coming down from Halloween so best to avoid), and, more importantly b) I would forget what is clearly the most important idea that I have ever had – which was about fear – and then would not write it down and… I don’t know, I was going to say my brain, and try not to get annoyed with me for using the word soul too much, but in truth I think it is my soul that feels just too overfull with things that have been in there for so long wanting to have a voice and it’s (please please forgive what I’m about to say), it’s like I’ve had a terribly constipated soul and I just took a huge laxative and stuff’s just got to get out somehow. Publicly. Why? I don’t know, to be explored I guess.

So – fear. I had a job in my twenties. Amazing job. I helped organize scientific expeditions to remote parts of the world that were virtually unknown. A group of scientists – and me – would go live in tents for a month at a time and catalog everything that we could find, every butterfly, bird, primate, frog, fern, vine, ant (you get the picture). Of course the thing about this is most unexplored forests are unexplored for some reason – difficult access, political instability, predatory insects. So most of ‘my’ expeditions were in West Africa. I would go for a month, live in a tent, bathe in a river (or a bucket). I was usually either the only woman or one of two women (thank goodness for Ilka!) out of a group of about 20. At times, we set up camp only a few miles from the border with Liberia or Sierra Leone, which, at the time of my first expedition, was in the middle of a political coup.

I’m sorry – I have to pause here – I think this blog may be the documentation of a person slipping (rapidly) into insanity. I am still sitting in my car, outside of my office building, facing the door where my colleagues come and go, laptop open and typing manically about tents. People can see me. They actually can’t NOT see me. And it is lunchtime. I’m like the crazy lady sitting in her car blogging on her computer – except that that’s not a thing. Laughing to herself.

Are my children going to starve? Will I be able to get it together? Should I ever drink coffee again?

Back to fear. If you aren’t familiar with camping, let me please share with you that tents, while they may keep insects at bay, are actually not that good at repelling invaders. So, say, if a military caravan toting semi-automatic weapons were to drive by and decide they want whatever is in my tent (which to paint a totally accurate picture could include just me, my little white female self), there’s not a whole lot that the canvas walls can do to protect me. And I love biologists, but my herpetologist friend is not really a match for the Liberian army. Or worse, the guys the Liberian army might be looking for.

Oh, pardon me ma’am. You want to park in my illegal spot? Sorry, taken. We can’t all blog from the same spot on the street.

Will my husband divorce me when he finds out how far I’ve slipped mentally? I’ve really got to move. I know those three people. I’ll lose my rep. (Do I have a rep? Oh, her? She always seemed nice in a kind of aloof, bitchy way. Kind of quiet, and why so darn serious?? Then she kind of lost it and started blogging from her car. Her kids starved and her husband left her. And the sad thing is she wasn’t even a very good blogger.)

Let me also mention that I was financially responsible for the expedition. And that required cash. Only way to pay for food, camp assistance, palm wine, live goats (aka dinner), bribes (totally just kidding because that would be like really illegal). And $1,000 USD in Guinea in 2002 was like 500,000,000 Guinean francs. So I slept in my tent each night, a tiny little blonde-ish southern girl (this is my memory, so if I want to be tiny-ish that’s my business. But, as a matter of fact I was indeed about 25% tinier then than now so, hell’s yeah, tiny ), with an enormous backpack full of smelly Guinean cash. And everyone in the camp knew I was the sugardaddy. All the guys in the village knew it too.

Was I afraid? Well, I think I vomited from fear one time. But I also had taken some prophylactic antibiotics on an empty stomach the same night the military convoy drove by while I was sleeping. So cause and effect, who knows? I did used to cry in the hotel room sometimes before a trip and think to myself: My friends are not doing this. I don’t have to do this. But I did it. I loved it. It was unbelievable to be out there seeing the world, learning about the world, discovering the world.

So today, I needed to pick up my laptop from the office (dun dun dun, cue scary music track, this is the stuff nightmares are made of). As previously mentioned, it costs an exorbitant amount to park in the lot by my office (officially $21 for one day – WHAT?) I guess maybe that’s good for global warming, sorry, we say climate change now, because it discourages driving. Maybe that is the bright side. So I’m not going to pay $21 to work in an office like a sane person for a few hours. I’ll just grab the laptop and go to a café. But I still have to park to get the laptop. No street spaces. There is a huge ‘driveway’ outside of the building. Cabs park here and wait for people all the time. So I’ll just pull up, park the car for literally 2 minutes, off the street, not in a reserved space, not in anyone’s way, and grab the computer and be back lickety split. And I’m terrified. Is this against the rules? What are the rules here? Is it feasible that I would get a ticket? This is a gray area and I feel palpable fear as I leave the car and walk inside. I don’t even know what I’m afraid of. Afraid of a ticket? Afraid someone is going to think I’m doing something wrong? I really, really don’t know. I have someone singing in my head “you’re not supposed to do that, you’re not supposed to do that” – like my 3-year-old if she were slightly more advanced in taunting people and less screechy. What the?? It’s a car, parked in a safe place. It is not hurting anyone, not blocking anyone. I’m running inside. Why am I so afraid? Am I the same person who slept in a tent on the Liberian border? (This occurs to me as I open the door and walk inside, the impetus for this car-penned blog.) What has happened to me? And why am I now sitting in the car like some lunatic criminal typing as if my life depended on it when I have a list 6 miles long of shoulds.

I don’t know. I guess I’m writing to find out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *