Excavating Old Fears

Small-plane-crashes-into-houseAs the plane approaches, I cringe on the couch beside the vaseline and the box of tissues and the glass of water.

My breath shallows. My stomach clenches. I wait, suspended, until it passes over my apartment.

Planes have been known to crash into homes. I’ve heard it on the news. I think about it every time. Even when I’m in the car.

I also worry about car crashes ever since those kids dashed out in front of us on the bike. I keep the soles of my feet on the dashboard and use them as brakes. Casey doesn’t like it because it leaves foot prints. But he’s the one who hit them. (They were fine.)

Trucks too. Obviously. But that’s been a long, long time. I still hold my breath. I have to pass them as quickly as I can.

I return to my folders. The pile of them. On the coffee table in front of me. Each one holds the contents of a different aspect of planning, labeled with marker: dresses, flowers, photography, reception, gifts, honeymoon. Inside I tuck magazine clippings and make carefully written notes on lined paper, the new recycled kind.

Now that he sees how much work a wedding is, he doesn’t want it. But it’s already in motion. And until he walks through the door after his shift, I’m afraid the phone will ring. That call. That news. That fucking truck.

I roll some more vaseline on my lips.

I have a vaseline stick in my pocket too, and in my purse, and in my car, at my desk at work, and beside my bed, the kitchen table, the office, and in the dining room which isn’t used as a dining room at all but a place where I do the Firm–Levels 1 through 6, a video workout, or Jane Fonda, or the new Sports Illustrated series, of which my favorite is the gentle class with Elle McPherson, that gorgeous model from Australia with the sweet accent, who introduces us to something called yoga, which involves holding her toes.

I don’t know what it is, but I think it has something to do with yogurt. Maybe they’re from the same place.

The first time I had yogurt was when we were visiting my Poppop in the hospital in Boston. It was like ice cream, only sour. Now there’s a TCBY off the island, and I love the white chocolate. It’s the only chocolate I can have without a headache.

Each time I figure out something else that gives me a headache, I give it up: chocolate, alcohol, meats with nitrates like hotdogs, bacon, sausage and ham (my favorite), salad dressings and other prepared foods with preservatives.

It was salad dressing that tipped me off to the preservative connection. Because I thought, this is ridiculous, how can salad give me a headache, so I got up from the table, opened the refrigerator, pulled out the plastic bottle and started reading ingredients.

I’ve been pretty much headache free since. Except weekends.

The counselor who visited work said that I should try Al-Anon. I have no idea how that could help, but it has something to do with how I told her that weekends are really stressful for me, especially Saturdays.

My colleague, the PE teacher, saw me coming out of the tiny room off the back gym where they hid the EAP counselor for the day. “Is everything okay?” he whispered.

“Everything is fine,” I said. “It was free.”

I guess I was the only one who tried it out, and now I feel kind of embarrassed, but I’m glad I did it because Al-Anon changed everything.

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