it's natural to be afraid.


i had to get some baby teeth pulled in the morning. my cousin rich slept over the night before. we were just joking around, and then all of a sudden, i got serious. i told him i was afraid of seeing the dentist. he told me i didn't have to worry, that pretty soon we'd be riding around like batman and robin, and my dad's ford ltd would be the batmobile. that got me laughing again. i forgot all about being afraid, and i slept soundly that night. my dad's ford ltd the batmobile, what a riot!

i remember my dad driving us to the airport in the summer of '91. we were going to the airport to fly to manila. i didn't like flying. once, i got so airsick i had to throw up in a bag. i thought about it and thought about it. it was illogical to be afraid, since i had made the trip twice before. but then i thought, that was when i was a kid. it was different now that i was a little older. i could feel things more. my feelings and emotions had so much more gravity. i sang the church hymnal in my head: be not afraid, i go before you always. i watched planes taking off and landing, and i played that hymnal in my head.

we got on the plane, and i immediately forced myself to sleep. i wanted to sleep through the whole thing, but especially the takeoff, sleep the fear away. minutes later, my dad shook me awake. he told me that he and my mom decided to change seats. i burst into tears, and i yelled at them for waking me up. i had the whole thing planned out! i was in control! in our new seats, i couldn't stop my legs from shaking. it was the most violent shaking i had ever seen, and i couldn't get it to stop. the stewardess gave me a blanket, and my dad scratched my head. i closed my eyes for takeoff. once we were airborne, i turned to my dad, and i had the biggest smile on my face. i said to him, that was it?

my aunt used to own some dogs, lhasa apsos. they started barking at me, and they jumped on my legs. there were probably four or five of them. i just stood there in the middle of the driveway, and i bawled my eyes out.

in the philippines, one of my relatives had half a coconut on the floor. they used it to clean the floor. i saw it, and i cried.

in the seventh grade, my classmate went up on stage to play the piano for the talent show. before he went on, i wished him good luck. he said i could be up there, too, playing guitar, but i wouldn't. because you're a pussy, he said.

my mom used to have prayer groups at our house once or twice a year. there was a big statue of the santa nino, christ child, that she would put on display behind our couch. the statue was like a four foot doll, and it had a porcelain face with long, curly hair. at night, i couldn't leave my bedroom to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. i didn't want to see it in the dark.

my mom also had smaller versions of the santo nino that she put in my bedroom, as well as her own. when i was old enough, i told her i didn't want it in my room anymore. she asked me why, and did it scare me? i told her it did. i once had a dream where our house was on fire, and in the driveway, there stood the santo nino.

i slept in my parents' bedroom on a foldout couch up until the seventh grade. the thought of being able to masturbate openly and at any hour of the night trumped any fears i had about sleeping in my own bedroom.

freshman year of college, i got really high and paranoid. i wanted to go back to my dorm room. i wanted to be a good kid. out on 12th avenue, i powerwalked back to bellarmine. my two buddies made fun of me for walking so fast. he thinks if he walks faster, he'll get more sleep! she called out in the dark.

it gives me the creeps to go inside the rosemont house by myself. my grandpa died there.

my girlfriend wanted to ride all the rides at disneyland. i had never ridden anything before. she kept pushing me and pushing me. frustrated, i called her a bitch. her eyes bulged, and then she went and rode california screamin' by herself. when she found me, i was crying on a park bench. i was twenty-one years old, still afraid of life.

after hurricane katrina, i didn't want to go to new orleans. i'd wake up in the middle of the night and picture myself alone on an airplane. i didn't want to be alone on an airplane. i wanted to just be in bed with my girlfriend.

the first time i got prostatitis, i thought it was all over. i was sitting on a bench in cal anderson park, waiting for my doctor's appointment. i sat there on the bench, and it was a sunny day. what if this is it, i thought. what if i am going to die? i thought about sean reid, a college classmate who died of cancer shortly before graduation. i thought about my instant messenger friend, gabby, who told me once that she couldn't believe one day we'd all be dead. and the saddest thing about death, she said, was that she wouldn't be able to look through her kitchen window ever again.

after i watched the exoricst, i couldn't sleep. i was eighteen then. after i watched the shining on the big screen, i couldn't sleep. i was twenty.

one easter, i watched a bible movie with my dad. i kept thinking about lazarus coming back from the dead, and i couldn't sleep.

last year, i asked this girl out for drinks. i couldn't even do it in person. i did it over instant message. my heart was racing as i typed it. we finally went out for drinks, and i didn't know what to say. i was twenty-six years old, and i hadn't ever really dated. she asked me what i had been up to lately, and i told her that i had been barbecuing with friends. was i really so boring? when i came back from the restroom, she casually slipped in an anecdote about some guy she was already seeing. i played it off like, oh, whatever, and then i insisted on paying for our beers.

you never made a move, my ex said. i had to make the first move, she said.

i asked my coworker if she had any manly-looking umbrellas behind her desk. as if there's anything remotely manly about you, she responded.

sometimes i wake up alone in my apartment, usually in the middle of the night, and i am terrified. and for no reason. no reason whatsoever.

No comments: