I love nature.
One of the most instantly calming activities I like to do when I’m close to yanking handfuls of hair out by the roots is to take a good long walk outside. The smells, the colours, the fresh new air that hasn’t already taken a trip or two through the lungs of other family members… it’s all good.
However, since developing anxiety it has become a bittersweet experience. I can no longer aimlessly ramble around until I get lost, and then aimlessly ramble a bit more until by some miracle I find my way back home again.
Now I have to carry a phone with me at all times. It has become a magical artifact that will tell me where I am at any given time ( Oh GPS, how I do love thee. ) It will give me something to stare at intently to avoid eye contact with random strangers, and as a shield against distinctly unwelcome Small Talk. And most importantly it will summon aid when I’m minding my own business and suddenly find myself being assaulted by a small group of women who think I’m filming them to put them on YouTube, when in reality I was just trying to send a message to my Significant Other that said “Damn. The shop is closed.”
That last one did my anxiety the world of good, I can tell you.
So every trip outside means gripping my phone firmly in my right hand, inside my pocket, at all times. And checking it at random intervals, just to be on the safe side. The extra extra super safe side.
However, I’m aware that stopping to stare at your phone every 10 steps or so is not only annoying for other pedestrians ( not that many seem to be moving at any discernible pace around here. The majority are housewives shuttling their offspring and they appear to have allllllll the time in the world. I really think the pavement should have a slow lane around schools where these women can dawdle at will, eventually making it home with just enough time to scrape off the moss that has grown around their ankles during the morning school run, before setting off at an oh-so-leisurely pace for the afternoon school pick-up.)
Anyway, I’ve taken to looking at my phone on the fly, and that pretty much works for me. My anxiety has fine tuned my peripheral vision, so walking collisions are practically non-existent.
It only works with moving objects, so there has been the odd occasion where I’ve walked into annoyingly stationary posts, inconveniently immobile walls, and frustratingly static doors. I’m sure I must have appeared in a YouTube video or two myself.
And every now and again whilst strolling beneath the trees I will get one of those tiny green caterpillars that hang from a thread from the leaves land on me, which I will gently relocate to somewhere green and leafy, and I am upon my merry way.
Except this morning it wasn’t a caterpillar. It was a spider. And the side of me that adores exaggerating for comic effect would dearly love to say it was the size of a damn apple, but in all truthfulness it would be pushing the boundaries a bit to claim it was more grape-sized.
I hate spiders.
I was fine with them as a small child until one day I came in from the garden, only for my mother to find a big fat garden spider twisted up in my waist-length hair, who then proceeded to shriek and beat me about the head with a newspaper. My mother that is, not the spider. He wasn’t quite newspaper-wielding size. That was the day I learned that you can inherit a phobia. In this case it taught me to be terrified of both spiders and my mother brandishing a weapon of any sort.
So here I am, one minute checking my phone, the next I look up and I swear, this thing is hanging an inch from my face. And I just know it wants to crawl up my nose and lay baby spider eggs in my brain.
What on earth has this to do with the Daily Prompt “Graceful”? Let me tell you.
Have you ever seen the “Bullet Time” scene from the Matrix? Now imagine a woman tentatively approaching middle age instead of a fabulously ageless Mr Reeves. “Graceful” might be pushing it a bit.
Had anyone seen me limboing along the sidewalk, arms flailing around like I’m tandem squid-hurling, then I probably wouldn’t ever have trouble getting people to move out of my way again.