The Fear

In Creative Writing, Travel
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Fear. Creeping, crawling, subtle fear. A fog rolling through the dim, damp dark. Growing, enveloping, choking.

Fear is a familiar foe. Some men fight it. Some flee to safety and familiarity. Some are paralyzed by it. A lucky few do not recognize it at all. I invite it in. I live with it, learn from it, understand it, and it becomes a friend. This is a simple truth I learned a long time ago: a person can adjust to almost anything. Given the choice between adapting and perishing, life adapts. Fear needs not be met with bravery. I am not brave.

I have long contemplated another foreign adventure to follow up my year abroad. I have even planned for it—slowly purchasing clothes and gear I knew I would need when the time came. I researched many destinations in Latin America and Asia, finally settling on India—a country I very nearly visited before but decided against. With my job for my brother winding down, the only question remaining was “when?” I let the question linger, like a swish of wine rolling around my mouth.

Until today, when The Fear came rolling in, yellow fangs gleaming in an ethereal silver smoke. It settled in its favorite roost: the pit of my stomach. And I knew, as surely as you are reading these words, that the decision could be delayed no longer. It didn’t matter when I decided to depart—only that a date be set. That the calendar be marked. Non-refundable money spent.

For The Fear is stronger than me. I can’t battle it down. My only recourse is to befriend it before it breaks me. It might have broken me today if I did not take action; that’s why I bought my plane ticket. Thursday, September 27th. JFK → DEL.

The Fear is a pitiless houseguest—churning my stomach, twisting my every thought, and most annoyingly, keeping me awake at 2:00am. It’s strong still, but I’ve cut the balls from it: for hell or high water, there’s an airline reservation with my name on it. All its torments cannot undo that decision.

But still, The Fear will stay. It will yell a lot, make my nights sleepless, eat the last of my food, drink my beer (and not replace it), and break all the nice china I use for holidays and special occasions. It might start a few fires, only to reluctantly put them out in the interest of self-preservation. I’ll bear it all. In time, its fury will turn inward; the threats will grow stale; the yelling will devolve into incoherent mumbling. We’ll sit in silence, blankly staring at each other from across the half-scorched room.

The Fear won’t apologize. It will simply ask about my day and make a passing comment about the weather. Friendships are built upon such pleasantries.

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