Recently I was thinking about the changing of the seasons. We haven’t had a terribly hot summer here in the wide open spaces, but we have had enough hot days for people to begin waxing sentimental about the coming of autumn.
School starts in a few days and some of the local groups have started up their committees for their annual fall festivals. All of this talk of leaves blowing in a chill wind and pumpkin patches started me musing on Halloween, ghost stories, bumps in the night and general thoughts on being scared.
As I began to really think I realized it has been quite a long time since I have been scared. I have been startled, embarrassed, frustrated(almost daily!), angry, sad, bored and content, just to name a few, but scared….hmmmmm? When was the last time I was scared, frightened or spooked? Which led me to my next self discovery question…how can I really write about being scared if I don’t know or can’t remember what that feels like?
So, I set out on a quest to achieve this emotion. Granted, it wasn’t going to be a long quest as I still had dozens of household chores to get through, but I diligently picked up my imaginary traveling cloak and sturdy metaphorical walking stick and headed out to try to find where “frightening” had hidden itself.
I started my quest at night as I think we would all be in agreement it is tricky to be scared in glaring sunlight, tricky, but not impossible. You see, I was going for a particular type of scared. An old fashioned, traditional, call it almost ancient type of fear, one associated more with creaky floorboards or twigs snapping behind you instead of the more modern terrorists with guns or flesh eating bacterial virus scare.
Lucky for me, I live in an older part of town which, in addition to several examples of classic older homes, also contains as almost abandoned cemetery. Perfect!! Add one not too hot evening, a pre-scare drink with friends and off I went!
I parked just down from the cemetery and picked up my phone to text my husband. But I stopped myself, could I really achieve my goal if I was giving him the exact location and intent of my quest? Could I really get scared if I knew someone would be at the ready to come to find me if need be? Probably better to go it alone, so I put the phone down. That’s better…I’m starting to feel a little nervous, not scared yet, but it’s a start.
Out of the car I start to walk down the dead end street to the tiny, iron gated resting place of a family long since gone from our town. It was pretty good there for a bit….dark night, hint of a breeze in the air making the shadows of the trees dance. I was almost at the gate when I heard someone call my name! Turning around in shock, but not fear, I saw a friend coming out of a house holding a glass of wine. Darn it!!!!
Turns out she was at a gathering of friends and saw me walking past the house. We chat. I try politely to explain my quest in the hopes she will let me continue, but she thinks it is a grand idea and offers to join me. I try to beg off. “This really is kind of an alone type of thing, ” I try to explain, but she doesn’t take the hint and off we go to the cemetery.
Wow, what a bust! My quest torn to pieces in front of me I struggle to be scared, but it is to no avail. Instead of shaking in my boots I am actually enjoying her company and her cheerful banter. We end up making a date for coffee and I head back to my car. Sure, I could have waited until she went back in or gone home and come back after midnight, but I am old and can’t stay up that late anymore.
However, my experience did give me insight. It is easier to be scared when you are younger because you can give yourself more to imagining what could be lurking out there in the dark and it is harder to get frightened when you have company.
And don’t worry- I will try again. Maybe at the old cemetery or someplace else. Any and all suggestions are welcome!