Earlier this summer, I received an invitation to my brother’s wedding and I was excited for him. I really liked his beautiful fiancé and thought they made a great match. There was only one small problem. The wedding was in Portland, Oregon.
Actually, this was a huge problem. Not because I couldn’t afford it thanks to a generous PFD this year(Alaska rocks!) or because I couldn’t get off work (I am a hoarder of leave time) but because of my generalized fear of everything.
I didn’t think I was afraid of everything until I started planning this trip. When I announced my plan to go, my sixteen year old also announced that he was going (honestly, I think he would volunteer for a trip to Kansas to watch grass grow if it meant traveling, and he loves his Uncle Joshua so was especially eager about going to their wedding), but my husband and best friend decided they couldn’t go due to work, so it would be just Cedrick and I.
First and foremost, I am afraid of flying. I knew this right away in planning the trip. I am not a little nervous about turbulence or a tad jumpy at take off and landings. I am the person sobbing hysterically, gripping the armrest, teeth clenched, grabbing the arm of the person next to me (even though I am afraid of strangers), praying out-loud, and hoping against hope that I won’t run screaming off the plane before takeoff. That’s after drinking three beers and taking a Valium, which I couldn’t do on this trip because I would have to drive.
That brings me to my second fear: driving. I decided to rent a car because I was afraid of having to depend on rides from other people. In this case, my fear of being out of control trumped my fear of driving a rental car in downtown Portland traffic, which was in my head, terrifying fast interstates at 85 miles per hour. I hadn’t driven anywhere but Kenai and Homer in years.
The third fear was closely related to driving and that was getting lost. I could get lost in Homer when I was a kid and I had spent all of my life there. I am still learning the Kenai/Soldotna area after six years and every time I have to pick up a kid for work, I get lost. The last time I ended up in Clam Gulch when I was supposed to be in Soldotna. I imagined myself crossing the border of New Mexico before I realized I wasn’t in Oregon anymore.
Then there was the accommodations. I would be staying with Joshua and his groomsmen and a few of their wives and a couple friends from Homer in big house with a septic system. So. Many. Fears. I have mentioned my fear of people I don’t know above, which a few of the housemates would be, so there was that. More importantly though, is my fear of people who have known me in my un-fabulous past (I know it is hard to believe now, but I was particularly un-cool in my adolescence). Most of these people went to school or church or were neighbors to me and got to see me in the stage where I would sit in the corner and read whilst wearing some fantastic alternative fashion creation that I had invented myself (this stage lasted seven years). Plus, the house was on a septic system so we had to be careful with water, which brings me into my fear of not taking a shower everyday. I was envisioning was trying not to revert to my former self and being shower deprived with greasy hair and unshaved legs.
Those were the major fears. I won’t mention the minor fears such as having a gas station attendant pump my gas, parallel parking, or wearing the wrong thing to the bachelorette party.
I realized as I planned the trip that I had fear make my circle experiences become very small, encompassing only home, work, and Kenai Safeway (the Soldotna one is scary). The more I let fear reign in my life, the smaller my circle of experience becomes, the less people I meet, and the fewer places I get to experience. I have to constantly remind myself not to let the fear win.
The thing is, I went and none of the things I was worried about happened. The flights were smooth, Portland driving is very slow and polite, we found all of our locations with only one or two wrong turns that the Garmin quickly corrected by loudly scolding us, and the people at the house were fun to meet and catch up with. I got to see my sister, nieces, nephew, and aunts that I haven’t seen in years. The wedding was beautiful.
I am so glad I went.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[?” Matthew 6:25-27 NIV