I’m afraid of a lot of things.
I’m afraid of heights. I’m afraid of the water being too hot when I thought it was just lukewarm and when I wash my hands it’ll hurt and I’ll forever have strange hands. I’m afraid that every time I make up a person in order to deliver the punchline of a joke I name him Carl inexplicably and don’t know how to stop.
I’m afraid that maybe I’m not a good writer and simply got lucky a few times. That I am Meg Ryan and I disappeared into the ether after seemingly knowing exactly who I was with every sleepless and non-inbox zero day that passed. I am afraid that I just figured I’d co-star with Tom Hanks for the rest of my life and then I made Proof of Life by silent omission for years instead.
Meg Ryan has to make a comeback, though. Right? Annie believes in magic, even when she’s crying while driving aimlessly in a car listening to Dr. Marcia Fieldstone and questioning her entire life. She has a failed engagement and still finds redemption on top of a building against all odds. If Annie can do it, can’t Meg? Can’t I?
I’m afraid I’m too invested in Meg Ryan. Just in general. To the point that I refer to fictional characters she has played as real people that I, and Meg Ryan, can relate to and find hope in.
I’m afraid I still don’t know how to effectively differentiate effect and affect and that one day, professionally, that will affect my ability to be a professional writer. To what effect, I don’t know.
Wait, did I just do it? I did it. Maybe I didn’t. That should be affect. But it feels like a noun, not a verb. I googled it, even it doesn’t seem to know. Wait, did I do it?
I’m afraid that one day I’ll break a bone and won’t be able to say casually at parties, “you know, I’ve never broken a bone before” anymore, and I’ll have to find a new interesting fact about myself to parade around the casual friendship and acquaintance circuit. I’m also afraid that I did, in fact, break my pinky toe that one time, and maybe this conversation starter of mine has been a salacious lie my entire life ever since. In my mind, the fact that I have probably broken a bone got lost on me or subconsciously buried away because I got so wrapped up in the fantastical story I made up in my head, that my pinky toe had been tired of being called small all of its life and finally grew to an abnormal size out of spite. That it was daring the others to keep putting baby in the corner, as though yelling, “who’s the big toe now!” in toe language and I wanted to empower its toe moxie.
I definitely broke it. I need a new interesting fact.
I’m afraid of commitment. I’m afraid of being alone. I’m afraid that I’m afraid of commitment. I’m afraid that I’m afraid of being alone. I’m afraid that everyone’s afraid of both, that it is not a special quality to be either, and that one day you just have to take a chance and you don’t get to know if anything is ever the right choice or not. I’m afraid I am incapable of just jumping off that cliff. Or maybe I’m good at jumping off it and simply dislike finding out there’s no answer in the water and you just have to keep jumping and hoping for the best.
I’m afraid of the day that he stops hugging me like that. Laughing at my bad jokes and absurd dance moves like that. Looking at me like I’m a superhero like that. I’m afraid he’s on to me, that I have no idea what I’m doing and that the day that he knows I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing is coming quite soon. I’m afraid he’ll learn that carrots do not, in fact, give you laser vision and that I know for a fact that everything is going to be okay when I simply do not.
I’m wondering if my mom and dad used to be afraid of all these same things, and then wonder if life is just assuming a lot of things in lieu of experiencing them in order to protect yourself from getting hurt when you have to find out for yourself. I’m afraid I’m too afraid to find out sometimes.
But I’m afraid I’m right.
I’m afraid that what makes me happy is writing and I’m afraid I only write well when I’m sad. I’m afraid you never know which one you are until you start writing something, and lately I find it harder and harder to write. I’m afraid the answer is just writing even when you don’t have the courage to, and I’m afraid my bag of courage feels light these days. But I’m afraid I know i’ve been my most courageous when I thought I was small and I’m afraid I simply don’t want to admit it because then I could never put the words back in my mouth once they’ve left.
I’m afraid Twitter took the romance out of writing yet I’m afraid I can’t stop looking at it, like running into a wall and pretending I’m surprised when my nose hurts again.
I just looked at my timeline. I can’t believe that’s trending.
I’m afraid that dogs can talk and I simply missed the one time my dog did and now he’s too shy to try again.
I’m afraid I’m a broken toy. One that no one wants to play with. That I’m Woody and my string broke, and I just can’t reach behind my back to check and am forever left to wonder if it did. I’m afraid I want to be someone’s favorite toy that they never give away and worry that I won’t be.
That hurt to write.
I’m afraid that I am my father. I’m afraid of how much I love and miss him. I can’t figure out how those two things can make sense all at once. But they do.
I’m afraid about writing about being afraid, and I’m afraid it’s probably time to admit that that’s okay. That the more I say I’m afraid of things, the less I end up being afraid of others and in some backwards way, I end up hedging fear with blind optimism on accident.
I’m afraid it’s okay to simultaneously admit that I feel like I set myself on fire to keep other people warm and also stand by other people’s fires more than I should. I’m afraid it’s probably about time to figure out how to keep myself and others warm at the same time.
I’m afraid it’s just okay to admit that I’m afraid. That it all works out when you open doors for strangers and wave when people let you in their lane on the freeway and put pennies in the “give a penny take a penny” tray at the gas station. I’m afraid to admit that every time i’ve been afraid it won’t work out, it works out. Just like it did for Annie and Sam and Jonah Baldwin.
Those three are probably delighted somewhere in some imaginary Seattle and I’m sure they’re getting great sleep these days.
I’m afraid of what happens when I start writing again.
I’m afraid because I don’t know how to start the next chapter. At all.
But I’m afraid, even if I don’t want to admit it, this one could be really good and I won’t have that crutch to fall back on anymore. I’m afraid all I’ll have left is knowing that I just need to write, and the rest will figure itself out.
I’m afraid of a lot of things.
I’m afraid I’m right.