Friday, May 18, 2012

No Surprises

Today my mom was raped and murdered. She called me on the phone at 3:30pm and told me she had just picked up a homeless man on the side of the road who was holding a sign that said “painting.” I was horrified. She lives in Florida, I in Maryland. Mom, living alone, at age 82, decided it would be a good idea to get the kitchen painted and so she picked him up and took him home. He was only going to charge her $40. She only called to ask if I remembered her hors d'oeuvres recipe. “I want to make some for him,” she told me. I confessed what I knew of it and spoke of my concern. She promised to call when he was gone. She didn't call. I was worried. I did call her....repeatedly. There was no answer. I called my brother. He called her neighbors; no one answered there either. We discussed when to call 911. She was raped and murdered.

Four hours later, she called me. She had dropped the dude off then went to the local YMCA to work out. She was neither raped nor murdered and is planning on picking him up again tomorrow to finish the job. Everything was fine. As for the man, I'm sure he is enjoying the hors d'oeuvres as I write this.

Why does my brain inflict this stress on me? Why must it torment me with horrendous imaginary potentialities non-stop? Granted, picking up the homeless dude wasn't a great idea, but still, why must I just jump to the worst possible conclusion? I don't know if it is imagination or worry, but I think through such scenarios almost daily and in great detail.

The other day, I am walking my dog down the road through the state park in which I live. A lovely day it is too. As we are walking, a car comes by. It slows down and stops next to me. In the front are two young men and in the back, a woman. One of the men asks me if I've seen a woman walking around. I say no. They thank me and drive away. Maybe it is because I'm in the country and can tell if the people are not from around here, or maybe I am just paranoid, but when I hear the car go down the road and then back up into a drive and turn around to come back again, I freak. I imagine they must be coming back to kidnap me or shoot me or......I don't know.....clearly something bad. I jump over a barbed wire fence, through the prickers (dragging my poor befuddled dog behind me), trip, land in the stream, and get back to my feet, staggering onto my own property. The people in the car must surely see me now, surely they see this idiocy, but they don't even slow down. The car disappears over the hill. Having successfully arrived in the “safe zone,” I make my way back to the house. Do I laugh at my silliness and resume enjoying the day? No, I continue to think about the whole scenario wherein the car of three comes back and enters our driveway and my husband and I have to once more get away. I actually plan out the escape route through the brush. Alas, this is how my brain seems to operate. It is beyond my control.

Over the years I have thoroughly planned out what my husband, I, and our animals will do in the event of: me failing out of grad school, a serial killer on the loose, a tornado, an earthquake, a Chinese invasion of our country, a new plague striking humanity, a nuclear attack on Washington DC, and an alien invasion from outer space. Some small minded people might call this excessive imagination or possibly foolishness on my part. What they fail to see is that very fine and most important line between paranoia and good planning.