I was walking in the night
And I saw nothing scary.
For I have never been afraid
Of anything. Not very.
Then I was deep within the woods
When, suddenly, I spied them.
I saw a pair of pale green pants
With nobody inside them!
I wasn’t scared. But, yet, I stopped
What could those pants be there for?
What could a pair of pants at night
Be standing in the air for?
And then they moved? Those empty pants!
They kind of started jumping.
And then my heart, I must admit,
It kind of started thumping.
So I got out. I got out fast
As fast as I could go, sir.
I wasn’t scared. But pants like that
I did not care for. No, sir.
After that a week went by.
Then one dark night in Grin-itch
(I had to do an errand there
And fetch some Grin-itch spinach)……
Well, I had fetched the spinach.
I was starting back through town
When those pants raced around a corner
And they almost knocked me down!
I lost my Grin-itch spinach
But I didn’t even care.
I ran for home! Believe me,
I had really had a scare!
Now, bicycles were never made
For pale green pants to ride ‘em,
Especially spooky pale green pants
With nobody inside ‘em!
And the NEXT night, I was fishing
For Doubt-trout on Roover River
When those pants came rowing toward me!
Well, I started in to shiver.
And by now I was SO frightened
That, I’ll tell you, but I hate to….
I screamed and rowed away and lost
my hook and line and bait, too!
I ran and found a Brickle bush
I hid myself away.
I got brickles in my britches
But I stayed there anyway.
I stayed all night. The next night, too
I’d be there still, no doubt,
But I had to do an errand
So, the next night, I went out.
I had to do an errand,
Had to pick a peck of Snide
In a dark and gloomy Snide-field
That was almost nine miles wide.
I said, “I do not fear those pants
With nobody inside them.”
I said, and said, and said those words.
I said them. But I lied them.
Then I reached inside a Snide bush
And the next thing that I knew,
I felt my hand touch someone!
And I’ll bet that you know who.
And there I was! Caught in the Snide!
And in that dreadful place
Those spooky, empty pants and I
were standing face to face!
I yelled for help. I screamed. I shrieked.
I howled. I yowled. I cried,
“OH, SAVE ME FROM THESE PALE
GREEN PANTS WITH NOBODY INSIDE!”
But then a strange thing happened.
Why, those pants began to cry!
Those pants began to tremble.
They were just as scared as I!
I never heard such whimpering
And I began to see
That I was just as strange to them
As they were strange to me!
I put my arm around their waist
And sat right down beside them.
I calmed them down.
Poor empty pants
With nobody inside them.
And now, we meet quite often,
Those empty pants and I,
And we never shake or tremble,
We both smile and we say…”Hi!”
So goes my very favorite (and seemingly little known since anytime I quote it I am met with blank stares) Dr. Seuss story, “What Was I Scared Of”. I used to read it to my kids when they were little, particularly enjoying the singsong verse and fantastic message that I wanted to teach them, despite my inability to necessarily abide by it. The opening line frequently pops into my head as I, admittedly, am a person who has struggled with what I know (intellectually, anyway) are silly fears.
I have just returned from ten days in Chile – a gloriously beautiful country with breathtaking views, delicious food, incredible wine and wonderfully warm people. But perhaps more important than the scenery, food and companionship was the number of fears that I faced and, damn!, conquered.
Admittedly, many of said fears will seem ridiculous, silly and even slightly pathetic but, as I often remind you, I am nothing if not honest. So, in no particular order, here goes:
- The plane ride. The thought of being on a plane for any amount of time, let alone nearly ten hours used to bring me to my knees and, truthfully, kept me home. My plane would never crash…it is the knowledge that I cannot get off if I find myself in a situation in which I want/need/absolutely have to or I will die in a flame of hysteria. While I long ago learned that taking a Xanax would ease those fears, over the past decade I have moved from taking a Xanax, to just having it in my handbag (only occasionally clutching it) to not even filling the prescription. Check.
- Illness or Malady. Every single time I ever go anywhere I spend an inordinate amount of time prior to departure worrying about getting sick while there. (Of note: I hardly ever get sick when I am home, so why I would worry about it when I am away is a sign of bat-shit craziness. That being said, I did get quite a nasty upper respiratory infection last year while in Las Vegas…but I also lived to talk about it.) Interestingly enough, during my trip to Chile not one, not two, but three of my travel companions came down with an antibiotic-requiring ailment. I did not. Check.
- Climbing a mountain. Okay, I have never had a fear of climbing a mountain, per say, but the symbolism of finding myself somewhere inconvenient to medical (or emotional) intervention should the need arise not only left me on the sidelines but made me a prime candidate for a shrink’s field day. The “what ifs” were bigger than me: “what if I trip and break my ankle?” “what if I have to go to the bathroom?”, “what if I freak out for some ridiculous reason?”. Nope, nope and nope. Check.
- Sticking my head in a sink to cool off. While I never put any thought to the pros and cons of submerging my head in a sink, it was nothing I have ever nor thought I would ever have even contemplated, let alone done. My hair, the origins of the water, all that wetness…yeah, no. Well, I learned that once you are halfway to the top of the mountain and it is 90 degrees and you are offended by your own smell, dunking your head in a sink is awesome. Obvious Freudian explanation notwithstanding: Check.
- Eating empanadas on the side of the road, a steak and avocado sandwich from the bottom of a backpack or strange looking soup with filled with stranger looking fish. I firmly believe that milk should be taken from the fridge, poured into the glass and then promptly returned to the cold, lest bacteria begin to grow and cause a violent case of vomiting, cramps and/or the trots. Lesson learned: if you work hard and climb a mountain you become infinitely less insanely neurotic about food borne illnesses. Metaphors abounding and: Check.
- Sharing a bathroom with your boyfriend’s parents. Well, this one did not come to fruition and the discovery of a second full bathroom in the cabin (which happened to be situated in perhaps the most beautiful spot in the world) was an emotional deal changer, but I am confident I would have lived through it had it actually happened. Pre-worried (extensively) over that one for nothin’. Check.
This trip was a big deal for me. Despite being wrapped up in a beautiful package with incredible scenery, food and companionship it challenged me. It forced me, in a very four star environment, to step out of my comfort zone, kick some ass and allow myself to just relax…because really, what was I scared of?
And a special shout out and thanks to this guy…for holding my hand literally and figuratively…
 I love his parents, but certain things need to remain sacred. Love to FS who, sensing my apprehension lovingly told me, “Mi bano es tu bano”…