Overcoming the Fears of Adulthood


When my eyes opened, when my brain sprang alive, when I realized the day, and the time, panic overcame me. I didn’t want to wake up; I didn’t want to be awake. Not one bone in my body wanted to face the day.

Little Dude was sick over the weekend. The pretty, little, tow-haired son of the man I love spent the weekend feverish, with hints of fatigue. The night before, I scrubbed a brand new, white couch clean from red vomit. Because, children always vomit bright, neon colors on couches, bedding, pillows, and carpets when sick. Sick children cannot leave the house, and so Little Dude and his dad would not attend the event today.

I would have to go alone.

Schemes sprang into my head. Maybe I was sick. Maybe I overslept. Maybe, just maybe, something heinous happened to my car, keeping me from going to the baseball game. Maybe, … maybe, … maybe.

Even though I just added another year to my life, even though I’ve survived grade school, middle school, high school, college, apartments, marriage, broken teeth, divorce, yard work, a gimp knee, and the recent car wrecks, I still didn’t feel ready for today. I didn’t want to do something new alone.

Where were my people? Where were my “security blankets?” Why did I have to do something scary, for the first time, by myself?

It was then, lying in bed, I realized something that caused me to groan. I released a full-bodied grumble, filled with self-deprecation, and pushed myself into a sitting position. After shaking my head a few more times, trying to negate the truth of the situation, I got out of bed, determined to face my fears.

Because, apparently, I was an adult.

Another fact came to me as I stepped up to my mirror, placed my hands on the vanity countertop, and stared at myself. Within the freckled visage, I noted a few wrinkles along my forehead, and one running alongside my mouth. I couldn’t find crows’ feet around my eyes. I didn’t see age scarring my neck.

Despite the fact that I had just turned older than dirt, my face still looked reasonable. At least it did, to me. Which could be the reason that, despite the wisdom of age, and the decades under my belt, I felt like a scared teenager, about to embark on an adventure in which I needed the comforting hand of my mom.

I jotted out a text message, intent on conning her to come along, to join me, to be my proverbial blankie, keeping me safe from danger. In reply, Mom said she’d rather have a root canal than watch a baseball game. I believe I laughed and moaned at the same time.

There it was: I was attending the game alone.

Except, I wouldn’t be alone. I would just arrive that way. My entire reason for attending was to sit with Son Son, my precious green-eyed boy, and his tee ball teammates. We would sit down, cheer on the Astros, and the boys would run the bases after the game. It had been planned out the week before, and I had told my tiny human that I would be in attendance.

I couldn’t back out now.

But, man, did I want to.

Driving downtown, I was sure to get lost, at least five times. Parking was unclear. The distance between the stadium and my car was unknown. How to get into the stadium, where to go, how many stairs I would have to hobble up. All of it, the entire event, was one, large question mark.

Question marks have never been in my plan. Perfectionism was my crux from youth. If I didn’t plan something, if it wasn’t detailed to the extreme, I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to be there. And, usually, when I felt the fear creep up, the uncertainty fill my body, I reneged. I found an excuse. I recused myself from the situation, curled up in a novel, or sappy TV show, and felt profound relief.

Yup. There it was: I was an adult, but I was also a scaredy-cat.

I got ready, donning the colors of my son’s team instead of the neon orange Astros colors. Orange has never matched my greenish skin tone. Wait, did I just say I was part lizard? That’s awesome. In any case, when I put an orange shirt against my skin, I gain the ability to look three shades lighter than puce.

Which could have gotten me out of driving to the game, now that I think about it.

… Next time?

I ran the errands I needed: getting a new SD card for my non-iPhone camera, pulling out cash for parking and drinks, and buying myself lunch for the drive–because I’ve never been a hot dog fan. The last errand I ran was for Tiny. He wanted stability, in the form of a calendar, to denote days that were special Mommy days, and days that were special Daddy days. Seeing as I was a panic-induced mess at the idea of attending this game, buying something in order to promote structure seemed necessary.

After googling the address, and plugging it into my GPS, I started the trek into downtown Houston. Now, I have driven downtown plenty of times, for work. I’ve perfected how to get to my hospital, and I know how to drive through the gridded city. But, Minute Maid? NRG stadium? The George R. Brown Convention Center? Never. I have never driven to those places alone. I’ve never wanted to drive to complicated areas of the city by myself.

I got lost using the GPS. Nothing new. I found my way pretty fast, and looped back around. I parked in a lot that was a few blocks from the stadium–a lot that was affiliated with the stadium, because I wanted to find my car at the end of the game. I got out of the car, smoothed down my hair, and started following the direction of the orange-clad pedestrians. They would know where to go, and I would follow them.

At least, that’s what I believed, until the sky opened up. Get lost, check. Have an unprecedented disaster strike, check. Walk through the rain in a slow saunter, because gimp people can’t run, check. There it was, my fears over attending alone, happening all within the first few minutes of arrival. Luckily, no one strip-searched me walking in, even though I looked like a drowned rat. Escalators took me to the nosebleed section, and I only hobbled up and down a few flights of stairs during the event.

I sat with my son, I took pictures of him like the crazy nut that I am, and I watched him scream, “Boo the Blue Jays” ad nauseam, until his dad told him to stop. Personally, I thought it was funny, and way less aggressive than anything I say during an LSU football game.

… Just saying.

On the way back home, I got lost again, still using GPS. That time, instead of trying to man my way through the confusion, adult-style, I called my dad. He talked me through the complicated mess, and I made it home safe.

I would like to say that I met my fears, battled through them, and came out the other side ready to conquer another challenge. I mean, I really would like to say that. Instead, I faced my fear, got through the event, and am ready to face more challenges with my security blankets intact.

Or, at the very least, my tiny human by my side.

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