DELVING BETWEEN THE TOES OF LIFE....I AM TOEJAM


2002-09-15 - 5:21 a.m.

In eleven days I will be placing my body within the confines of a metal pod and allowing someone to fly my flesh across the ocean and deposit the collection of bones, muscle and skin that I call myself onto foreign soil. The part of me that wonít be making that flight is my mind, I am turning that part of myself off, I am mailing that separately, sending that part of myself by boat. I am terrified of flying. Absolutely, resolutely, without falter, irrationally scared of flying.

I have flown before, many times...and many times before I have been terrified, each time I fly that terror gets progressively worse for me. It doesnít help matters that now I have to add the terror of being hijacked onto my list of possible reasons to be scared of flying. When I am scared of something I will make certain that everything else is complete order, that I know every step of the process by heart so that I neednít worry about other things. For instance, when I won that award last year for my poetry and short story I was terrified of reading it to the public, it was the act of reading out loud to unknown faces that terrified me but the rest of the process was what I focused on...I had to know exactly how the thing would go, how many paragraphs they wanted us to read from our stories, how many people would be before me, I had to know the exact location I would be standing while reading, had to know what to wear, where to park, which door to use.....same thing with flying, I have to know exactly what is going to be involved in the process of travel in order to alleviate some stress and just focus on the one looming fear I have of some air disaster. When I fly from Kalamazoo to Denver, with a connection at OíHare, I am less stressed because I know those airports by heart, I know the process of them, I know where I am supposed to go without hardly having to think about it. But this trip, this trip I am going to three airports I have never been to before, AND, I have to deal with the whole customs thing (which I have heard is nothing to worry about, but I still donít know the process of it) AND I have to deal with my luggage on my own. Normally when stepping off a plane I relax into a brainless slump, immediately, almost as though I was drunk, extremely drunk. I cannot think, I can hardly move. Whomever it is that is picking me up has always dragged my luggage off the conveyer for me and then held me up and taken me home. This time I have to deal with my luggage on my own, I have to get off the plane, find a cart, get my luggage and go through customs on my own before I am allowed to walk through the doors of the international arrivals and fall into E.ís arms. So, I will be a complete wreck by that time, a frazzled, sobbing wreck.

As for the flying part of it...Iím not scared of death, I am concerned with it of course, I donít want to die. I get tears in my eyes with the thought that I would never see my cats again, never hear my brother going off on some tangent in his thug voice, never again see my other brother doing his crazy witch like prance around my house, never again be able to lecture my mother...but I can handle the thought of death, because as far as I believe, once I am dead that is it, I wonít even know I am dead because well...I am dead. What I am scared of is surviving. I am the type of person that would survive an airplane crash as unlikely as that may seem. I just keep imagining myself going through that terror, the crushing fear, my heart leaping through my throat and instead of finding any solace within a short time (by dying) I will survive....alone, drifting if a black sea, not knowing what is going to happen next, maybe my legs have been severed, maybe I have broken my back, whatever it is I am alive and slowly dying. I have to endure those hours, alone, not knowing what is going to happen, the fear does not end, it courses through me unrelenting. It is the fear that I cannot handle. I hate fear. Most times fear only lasts a few moments and then there is a calming. This fear, the fear I fear the most is a sustained fear, something which does not end.

And these are the reasons I am shipping my mind ahead of my body. I will send my bodily form across the sky, but my mind, the part of me that cannot handle this, is being shipped separately, in fact, I may just leave that part here.

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