When I don't answer the phone

Anyone reading last winter knows my familiarity with fear and phobia. My phobias came out mostly in childhood and I still wonder how my mom and dad, such upbeat, stable, model-citizen types, churned out a fatalistic little bed wetter like me.

I'm sure everyone in my family was relieved when I grew up enough in junior high to be able to spend the night at friends' houses without freaking out, calling my mom at 3am and begging her to come pick me up. It was at this point that I started to shake off the mantle of mama's girl and catapult myself into independence.

In ninth grade I quit fearing the grim reaper at every turn and my dreams of dying in housefires and plunging elevators started to abate. I was a moody teenager who wore berets and took photography and slammed my bedroom door so I could have some PRIVACY to write my Amnesty International letters and plan my life in the real world where I would FINALLY GET SOME PRIVACY. GOD.

I decided I'd grow up to be a human rights photographer or maybe a librarian as long as the library was in a country where there was a political revolution or a coup. I'd welcome and encourage the opportunity to stare down the barrel of a gun. Fearless had replaced fearful. Except I wasn't actually that gifted in photography and while I truly have valued my travels in violent, revolution-inclined countries, I'm not trying to break up any gunfights.

Now I talk about phobia like it's funny but I'm not laughing when little quirks and cracks reappear. When I can't sleep for days and the idea of not sleeping worries me into an even greater state of insomnia and all I can do is put a pillow over my head and scream or go to the kitchen to eat peanut butter with a spoon and think about how ill I'm going to feel the next day.

I worry that I don't have enough time to myself to read and write and think because this is how I figure things out and if I don't get any time, I'll NEVER FIGURE ANYTHING OUT.

Or I worry that I spend too much time alone. That I'm a loner and will one day be a hunchback and a cat lady and it won't matter if I figure anything out because there won't be anyone to tell it to. Depending on how good my weekend was, I can start AND end the week equally afflicted by opposite emotions.

Probably the best expression of this state is my periodic telephone aversion. There are people I need, people I miss, people I could use a good talking to, if only I could answer the phone or listen to voicemail. The knowledge that nine voices on nine messages want to know how I am and I mean they REALLY want to know, they don't want a sound bite, sometimes overwhelms.

Sometimes I just haven't figured it out and instead of talking through it, I wind myself tightly around my questions. Then, for no reason at all, the flip switches in my brain and I get a rush of energy and I listen to all the messages at once and write them in my notebook. And, hopefully, call back.

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