Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fear

Today I spent with my daughter and one of her friends.  We got dressed together before anyone else was awake. She made her own cheese toast breakfast and the girls told each other embarrassing stories about their brothers in the car.  At my work, they helped out and were rewarded with Whitman's chocolates, Werthers, lunch they could eat with their fingers, and a hula hoop from one of my coworkers for Christmas.

I come in the back door usually at work, but today it was locked because apparently, a mentally unstable fella waltzed in yesterday afternoon ranting about the end of the world.  It scared the receptionist, as it would, so we took that little extra measure of security today.  It made me think about how this holiday season seems have been soaked in melancholy, grieving, and fear.  I feel it myself.  I've found myself putting on a happy face and trying to compartmentalize for the sake of my kids.  If I didn't have other people in my house affected by the tone I set as a parent, I think I'd be spending a lot of this season holed up at home reading the news followed by heady books like Man's Search For Meaning and We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families (both sitting unread on my shelf).

 One of my daughter's friends from school invited her to come ice skating this afternoon, and when we got to her house after my work, I found out that she already had a friend over but that the parents wouldn't let her go to a mall.  They're feeling that fear themselves, the cloud that is following so many around this year.  I completely get it.  When we got the invitation to ice skate, my brain went to that same place.  Earlier this week when my husband and I had to make a Christmas shopping trip there, I felt the same urgency to get out of the crowd after we'd been there about half an hour.  It was not my normal dislike of crowds telling me it was time to leave; it was fear of violence.

I don't want to live in fear, so we went skating anyway.  It wasn't easy for me.  The girls, of course, felt nothing but excitement about the spontaneous trip.  When we got there, I found one of the seniors from Ethiopia in my program at work, one I've known for over three years now ever since my son was a baby.  He's easy to spot now that he's in a motorized wheelchair.  He can be a  belligerent old stinker who expresses his political opinions tactlessly and orders around the guy who gives him discounted drip coffee, but I like him a lot anyway.  He likes me too.  He's got a great smile which he offers pretty freely between his standard frown.  My kids are a little scared of his neutral face.

We talked for about forty-five minutes as the girls skated.  He commended me for adopting two kids from two different regions of Ethiopia, telling me that I'm bringing people together, as if we'd planned the adoptions for that purpose.

He flashed his perfect, straight, white-toothed smile at me, and  I was glad I went into that crowded mall.

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