My Last Trip to Houston

When I was in college, before MySpace or Facebook, there were bulletin boards. I don’t remember how I found out about them, but I decided one day to set up a profile.

My profile name? Eros Turannos.

I had just read the poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson in my poetry class and thought it would be a good username.

What I didn’t realize, because I was very naive, was that men stopped at “Eros” and immediately thought I was promiscuous. It was annoying and upsetting.

However, I did meet a few people online who were nice, and one who I thought hung the moon.

His name was Mike, and he lived in another state. Our first phone call lasted several hours. We found that we had the same sense of humor, liked the same books, and were in sync on many things.

He wanted to come visit me, but I couldn’t go through with it. I was too nervous. As much as I liked Mike, I was still an agoraphobic. Even if I didn’t really know it yet.

Mike decided to visit another bulletin-board friend and ended up having a layover in Houston. He asked me if I would come see him at the airport. This was before 9/11, so I would be able to meet him at the gate.

I said I would, but it took a heck of a time to get to Houston Intercontinental. I was so nervous and turned around to go back to Huntsville at least three times.

When I finally got there, I had to run to the gate. I recognized him immediately. He was sitting reading Jurassic Park and was wearing the fluorescent orange hat he told me to look for.

We had only a few minutes to say hello in person for the first time. There was already a boarding call announced. We quickly kissed and then he was gone. Our relationship, whatever it was, didn’t last, but that moment stands out in my mind.

I didn’t travel to Houston for several years after that whirlwind trip. But the fact that I had made it to Houston and back was an accomplishment, and that was all that mattered.

Your Worst Nightmare

In the early ’90s, there was an awesome board/VCR game called Nightmare. You wrote down your worst nightmare on a card and put all the cards in the middle of the board. The game was about an hour long, and you had to go around, collect keys, and did other tasks according to the cards you drew. All of this was fast-paced, because you had to turn all the lights off and the TV volume up as high as it could go, so that when the creepy guy came on the screen to stop the game at certain moments it would scare the crap out of you. If you collected all the keys and picked the top card (and it wasn’t the card you wrote on) before the creepy guy came on the TV for the last time, you won the game.

It was fun, especially with a big group. We laughed, we screamed, we yelled, “Go faster!” I don’t remember who won, but we made sure the creepy guy didn’t.

I also don’t remember what I wrote on the card as my nightmare. But ever since I figured out that I had anxiety/panic disorder, I can definitely pinpoint it now.

Being violently ill when I’m not in my safe place.

“Violently ill” means many things. Call it what you want–puking, vomiting, regurgitating–it is always violent to me. And “safe place” means my home. It’s my comfort zone. It has all my stuff.

Feeling sick when I’m away from home is one of the main things that makes me nervous. Feeling nauseated while I’m traveling, or when I’m somewhere other than my house, is even worse. It’s bound to happen, of course, but to me it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. I don’t know exactly why it bothers me so much. Why I obsess about it when I think about traveling.

It started with an airplane trip. I used to be a frequent flier. I loved the window seat. I enjoyed meeting new people and the thrill of taking off and landing. But one time, while I was talking to of guys sitting next to me, I started feeling sick to my stomach. Even one of the men commented that I looked “green.” Ever since, I’ve sat in the aisle seat so it’s easier to get to the bathroom…just in case. I rely on pills to knock me out so I won’t have to feel the anxiety. In fact, I haven’t been on a plane in more than five years.

It’s not that I don’t want to travel. Hawaii, Australia, Las Vegas, and Ireland are places I would love to see. My husband’s parents visit Maine every summer, which sounds wonderful.

The last trip I made was across the pond. I went to The Netherlands, where my dad and stepmother have lived for several years. There’s a canal behind their house with ducks that come up to you to be fed. I’ve been to see my dad twice and both times I had a blast. The country is wonderful and people are so friendly.

A beautiful day in Haarlem

I also got to visit England, which I loved. London is amazing. I was a bit nervous, but the ride on the London Eye was fabulous. I could see England for miles. I went to the London Aquarium, saw a couple theatre shows, and toured a beautiful castle.

The London Eye (taken from inside the London Eye)

There were some times when I was nervous while I was overseas, but all in all I had a great time. I would love to go again. And someday, I hope I will.

So maybe I should change my nightmare, because I don’t want to continue to live in fear of going outside my comfort zone.

I’m afraid of my fear of traveling, and that I will never get over this feeling.

I have a tile that my dad and stepmother gave me. It says: “To make your dreams come true, wake up.”

I hope I wake up soon.