On getting over my fears
And being a small soft baby
One of my earliest memories is of a book. It was a glossy board book that consisted entirely of photos of kittens and cookies. Fluffy kittens leisurely padding around these pastel-hued, lacy cookies that were almost as big as the kittens. Kittens and cookies: together at last.
(The cookies are all wrong, but you get the idea.)
I’ve analyzed myself (always a productive thing to do) and decided that this book is the reason why I’m so conflict-averse in my own writing, and possibly my life. (It’s likely I’m giving this one book too much credit, sure. There are probably other reasons. But shh. Let me have this.) Deep down I want to create something as comforting as that book was. There was zero conflict in the world of kittens and cookies. The kittens lived with the cookies in perfect harmony. Those kittens were safe and cute, and they were safe because they were cute, and the cookies were there to be pretty, and that was fine. I have been chasing that comfort high ever since.
Which is all to say I’m feeling a wee bit anxious these days, and I find myself yearning for the adult equivalent of kittens and cookies. (Cats and cocktails?) I’m excited about our upcoming move (in one month!) but I’m also nervous. Mostly my fears revolve around driving, which is not a thing I like doing, but is a thing I will have to do.
I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car in 15 years, when we left New Jersey and returned to Brooklyn and I was like, “And now, Scott, you will do all the driving, for I am Done.” I’ve never been the world’s most comfortable driver—it took me two rounds of driver’s ed and two driver’s tests to get my license—but at some point it made me too nervous to continue. I don’t know where that fear comes from. In high school I drove all the time, and it’s not like I got into any accidents. (I mean, did I almost get into accidents? Sure. Did I witness people shaking their fists at me as I blithely executed a poorly thought-out maneuver? Oh why yes. But no contact was ever made, and I think that counts for something.) The couple of accidents I’ve been in were when I was a passenger, and only one of them was even moderately significant. I did get a concussion from that one, which sucked. But even after that, I drove whenever I was home from school.
At some point during my adulthood, my mild-to-moderate aversion to driving morphed into a full-blown phobia, and now I can barely stand being a passenger. Especially on a highway, where we’re all hurtling through space. (Scott finds me delightful on long road trips.) I don’t think it’s natural. All of us, whizzing around together, separated by these arbitrary lines? And sometimes the lines simply change and one must “merge”? What the devilry?
Also, other people are insane. I don’t trust them, and I don’t think I should be around them. Sorry, I know you’re other people. I don’t mean you. I think.
And what if a driver simply closes their eyes? This is a thing I’ve imagined. All you need is one extra-long blink and whoopsies, you’re wandering out of your lane. What if I’m driving and I decide to close my eyes? Ridiculous, right? I’m not going to close my eyes while driving! No one would do that! And yet my palms are sweating as I type this. But what if I do! What if I think about doing that while I’m driving, and I have a panic attack? And then I pass out? Oh god! I’m so sweaty!
We bought a car. It’s real. The driving will happen. And I’m sure once I’m practicing on gentle side roads, I’ll feel better. Right? Of course I will. I’m signing up for one-on-one driving instruction as soon as I can, too. And you can be sure I’ll write about it. It’s going to be fine. Still, it cannot be emphasized enough: I’m very sweaty.
This is why I need more kittens and cookies in my life. No one is making those kittens drive anything! They’re far too small and soft.
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Oh, does this resonate with me. Every time I think about leaving the city (a more frequent occurrence these days), I remember: DRIVING. I was bad at it when I was a suburban teen, and can't imagine my skills will improve as I age. So moving to Europe is really my only option.
Hope your mileage varies, and that you love your new place!
Five years into my post-NYC life, I read this dispatch from a salon that I walked 90 minutes to reach, rather than—God forbid—drive.