Of all the things that are most scary either as a child or an adult, there is at least ONE that will stand out in your life as THE.Scariest.Thing.EVER!
As a child I remember being afraid of the dark, afraid of scary noises in the dark, afraid of scary noises when I was in the house alone, or even now ANY noise while in the house alone seems scary. I heard some beeping the other day and my mind traveled so far off the deep end that I imagined there was a bomb somewhere. It was his laptop. Phew! I am not crazy. I am not crazy.
I was afraid of going to the dentist (because of his nose-hairs~ absolutely valid), of the empty field across the street (that in daylight was perfectly normal as far as empty fields go), I was even afraid of tall people. Now they only intimidate me slightly. I feared jumping from the high diving board, went up once to prove I could do it (dumb sibling peer pressure), belly flopped. Was in pain, like, forever! Amusement park rides were terrifying, they still are. I have memories of being whipped around feeling like my head was going to pop off, or riding the Tilt-A-Wheel just knowing I was going to hurl as soon as it stopped and don’t even get me started on the Merry-Go-Round. That is like begging for a massive headache with a touch of nausea.
I was afraid of daddy long legs, grass hoppers (so unpredictable), spiders, or – basically hairy things in general, on the flip-side, those dogs that look naked are so frightening. I didn’t think I was afraid of dogs until a little yip-yap was chasing me down the block. I was so nervous I threw a plastic cup at it (only thing in pocket), which was pretty stupid to do in my neighborhood because the wind just took it away and yip-yap kept “playing” with me. Then I felt really bad for littering the universe. Finally I yelled at it in Hebrew and ran away, I know I am pathetic, it was small enough to squish with the bottom of my shoe! The only dog I ever loved was not even my own, Tex ( I am fairly certain he bit my mom), it was Bailey. Anyone who lives in my neighborhood knows and loves Bailey. I was afraid of bats – they were in camp…at night, but come on, everyone is afraid of bats. The inside of tomatoes – seriously? Why are they so snotty? Jello, puddings and custard, jiggly food is weird and creepy.
The worst is scary movies. What is WRONG with some people? Why would anyone want to be scared on purpose is beyond me. In college I went with a friend and we took some of our NCSYers to a movie. I think it was SCREAM. Holymoly Guacamole! The entire audience screamed at the same time. I can safely use my Spanish here and say Amigo, yo era tan estúpido which for my non-Spanish speaking friends means, Man I was so stupid. Thanks to my brother and cousins, a family trip in Florida once found me in a room with a shnauzer as we watched A Nightmare on Elm Street. POW! Double Whammie.
But on a serious note, when I studied in Israel post high-school, the Gulf War broke out. It was truly terrifying even though, we made fun and called Saddam Hussein, So Damn Insane. We made Hebrew jokes: What’s Saddam’s favorite snack? SCUDay Marak. But it was scary. We packed up soldiers kits. We taped up windows for the elderly. We ran to the cheder atum (sealed room) when we heard the siren go off at any time day or night. We carried our gas masks whenever we left the school grounds. We would sit for hours in our gas masks until we were told via radio that the coast was clear. This was by far the scariest thing I endured to date. I am most certain I suffered from PTSD. I would jump out of bed when the fire engines would scream through town in the middle of the night in suburban NJ.
I worked on Wall Street when the towers were hit. I was on maternity leave but my husband worked in a downtown government building and was evacuated and walked for blocks to flee the awful events of the day. LIFE IS SCARY. There are dangers all around us. It’s how we handle these situations that separate us from the weak and meek. We each have the ability to overcome our fears by looking them in the face and saying, I’m on to you. We are encouraged early on to be brave. From the first time we are urged to take our baby steps or learn to ride a bike, or as my daughter just experienced need to have blood-work done we are overly praised for a job well done, even if we cried out of sheer fear through it. In the few minutes it took me to park the car, my daughter and husband had already finished the procedure. She cried and cried and I felt awful for not being there to hold her and calm her. However as we left, the nurses called out asking if I was the mother. I of course responded yes and there were words of praise about how brave she was. As we walked out the door, a complete stranger who also had blood-work taken praised my daughter for being such a big girl.
Even though just yesterday there was a terrorist attack not more that 10 minutes from my home. He was caught, I was not anywhere near home when it happened, but my children were local enough. He was caught and killed thanks to our brave soldiers (to donate click here). I have faith in Hashem that we are being watched. Our soldiers are there all the time.
I was asked often how I could possibly have made aliyah. Life was certain in America. We had jobs, a home, family close by, Costco. Wasn’t I afraid of the unknown, of terrorism, cats and jukim? Yes. Of course I was nervous, but there is a difference between the good and bad kinds of “scary”. I knew that it made sense for us. I was not afraid of those things. I was calm about our decision. I still firmly believe that we made the right decision though it is a difficult one, even if I get stuck in a bathroom with no toilet paper and there are people banging on the door screaming at me and I forget how to say, “I REALLY NEED TOILET PAPER” in Hebrew. True Story.