January 20, 2003 | Four fearsWhen I was approaching my mid-20s, there was for some time a strange sensation that I have finally lost my fears. As a child, a timid one, I was afraid of spiders, afraid of darkness, and at one time afraid of the stuttering I was nearly developing. But somehow in the process of growing up I left these behind. I've always wanted to grow up; in my early 20s I was glad and proud that I had transcended so much. There was little in the outside world that I would not do. Yet I was so conscious of this leaving behind, this lack, it felt significant, like a vacuum, bound to be filled by something else.
Now, nearing 30, I have a sense of what that thing consists of.
In the late afternoon, sunlight fast diminishing, I finally take a walk to Prospect Park. Tomorrow morning I have an interview, rescheduled, which if I do well in it would allow me to turn my recent world-traveling into a more sustainable lifestyle. But if I don't, if the interviewer doesn't show up again... That was fear no. 1. In the afternoon while in front of the web, that time-sucking machine, I looked at my old company's website for the first time in ten months, and a job description held my attention, in the sense that I couldn't look away, except to step out of the house. If I have to go back to the last three years, live them again, over and over, becoming stagnant between the job and the commute... Especially when that's what's expected of me. Fear no. 2. I emailed a friend to ask him to call. Haven't talked to old friends in so long, email exchanges dwindle. J doesn't even check email anymore, so I don't know if anything significant happened in his life. Or insignificant. There are fewer and fewer reasons to go back to the Bay Area. No one, anywhere, is waiting for me to return, to come home. Fear no. 3. Dad and I are finally communicating now, but he doesn't ask me questions or answer mine. He will meet a friend of mine visiting China, only briefly, but at least I will know from my friend how my father is, see pictures. I'm picturing his hair, is it all white now? He is not getting younger. The time that I have left to get to know him is dwindling. Fear no. 4.
I'm not coming to the conclusion that childhood and adulthood are similar, just populated by different fears. It is freezing cold as I walk and in less than an hour I'm shivering, yet I make the long way through the park, quiet at this hour. Half the sky is lit red-orange by the sun now under the horizon--a light effect called bounce. No one tells me to pull on another layer or to come home earlier, and I'm glad of this. No, there's no going back. Displacing the nightmares of childhood, the stuff that preoccupies us now is the very thing that propelled us toward adulthood. What would I do without them?
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