Childhood Fears - Looking Back (A Beginning, Part 1)

As a small child, I don't recall being outlandishly nervous. I played like a normal kid. Acted like a normal kid. Did well at school. Got along with my family. Sure I was afraid of the typical cowboys and Indians hiding in the forest when I went to sleep at night (I'm the youngest of three brothers). And I recall hating my bedroom walls. They were some sort of wood which had the "eyes" in them. I always thought they were staring at me. But, at least I had my brother to protect me from the cowboys - or was it the Indians I was afraid of? Regardless, I had the normal childhood fears for the most part. I was never afraid of monsters under the bed, mainly because my youngest brother was under my bed (I got the top bunk). However, I felt like I was a pretty normal kid with pretty rational childhood fears.

If you knew me now, you would have never guessed that I was born on a farm. My parents did not allow us a TV to watch, but we did listen to records and/or the radio, which I clearly remembered The Statler Brothers or Don Williams as my favorites. At age 6, my brothers being older, I remember us helping in the garden picking green beans, corn, and several other fruits and vegetables. I helped right along with the scorpions, garden spiders and garden snakes, none being a bother to me considering they were gross! I'd eat fruit right off of the vine. I'd swim next to water snakes in the river. I'd gladly hop into an over sized tire (without first checking for dirt or spiders or other germs) and roll down to the bottom of the hill. I guess I seemed fearless compared to now.

Now, I can't even think of taking a pill that has fallen onto the floor of my very own apartment (goes in the trash). Or not check my shoes for spiders before slipping them on. Or eat fresh produce from the grocery store without soaking them for hours. Or feed the birds without worrying about catching some sort of bird flu. When H1N1 (supposedly) became rampant my aunt gave me a surgical mask as a joke. I placed it on the rear-view mirror of my car in case I needed it, half-jokingly. More to come on this subject later.

I don't recall being terrified until the age of 7, moving from Branson, Missouri to Scottsdale, Arizona. On our long drive across country, we hit a terrible, terrible storm around Payson, AZ. I believe it was from the 1983 Tropical Storm Octave. My dad was driving the U-Haul with my youngest brother and I, and my mom and older brother were driving in the Ford Escort, license plate #BRW-437 (don't know why I still remember that). I also remember all of our phone numbers, too. These were times you only had one phone and one phone number. Let's see:

Missouri: 334-0039
Scottsdale: 990-7213
Tempe: 592-0153

And well, I won't give you my parent's newest phone number.

Moving on, the storm was so bad, it was reaching dark and we're on the top of a huge mountain with roads that have no railings. "This should be illegal", I thought. "We could fall right off this mountain!". And we nearly did. The wind was blowing us around so badly, rain was slamming down onto the window so loudly, I thought this was it. I remember my mom waving her arms out of the Ford, hair blowing in front of her face, shouting for us to pull over. We had to pull onto the side of the road, which would only fit the huge U-Haul and tiny Escort while we waited out the storm. I mean, you step out of the truck and one false move, bottom of the mountain you go. I was so panicked, I had covers over my head and Ray Stevens blaring from my tape recorder. I was a crazy 7 year old, praying aloud, hysterically crying and shouting "God, please don't let us die! Please don't let us die!" My brother and dad comforted me silently as I lay there like an insane mental patient.

This begins my fear of heights, mountains and storms. And where did we end up camping several times a year? Payson, Arizona, of course.

To be continued....

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