I used to be afraid of my parents’ bedroom because it lay at the end of the upstairs hallway, far away from the brightly lit staircase and the liveliness of my family of seven, sometimes eight, down below and even though that fear had always been just because of the location and the darkness, my fear grew noticeably worse after I watched an episode of the Twilight Zone in which a little boy had been left alone in the house with his ailing grandmother and when she called to him and he went to check on her, her scrawny arm reached out from under the covers and grabbed him and he discovered that she was a horrible looking monster who I was sure slept in my parents bed (or maybe under it or maybe in the closet) whenever they weren’t there and no one had thought to turn on the upstairs hall light yet so I had to creep through the total darkness to get to the room and grab whatever little woobie toy I was in need of and then go fleeing down the carpeted stairs as fast as my sock feet could take me without slipping out from beneath me, sending me bumping on my fanny eleven steps down to the landing where I could stand up and compose myself and then walk calmly into the kitchen where everyone else was still eating dinner and I could pretend that I hadn’t just escaped the very Devil herself once again.
Now I am afraid of getting old. Not death. Death is fine. I am afraid of getting old. I am afraid of infirmity. I am afraid of helplessness. I’m afraid of motionlessness. Of doctors. Of arthritis. Of long hospital stays. Of pill boxes. Not being able to drive. Being too slow at the cross walk. My hands shaking uncontrollably. No more contact lenses. Who will cut my steak? How will I shave my underarms? I’m afraid of orthopedic shoes. Elastic waist pants. A sexless relationship. Putting my partner in the grave.
Why am I thinking about all this now? Is it because my siblings and I are all in our 30s now? Is it because my parents are in their 60s? Is it because those six wild years that I spent bouncing around the globe from country to country are now nine years behind me? Or is it because my sweet puppy dog is now a grumpy old man and I’m terrified knowing that one of our hikes through the Rocky Mountains is going to be his last?
Where is the monster under the bed? Show yourself. At least you I can fight.
Written in Sara Michas-Martin’s Savvy Sentences: How to Mean More Than You Say (June 17, 2015)