Claustrophobic

Amusement rides do not frighten me.  To me they are exhilarating, thrilling, stimulating, and yes  . . . amusing.  You know what frightens me?  That metal bar they latch down against my lap.  The feeling of being locked in, unable to escape or even move.  Sometimes I will scoot out a bit, or take a big breath so that after the bar lodges down against my torso, I can relax and have a few inches of relief.  Yes, I would rather jostle around and fly out of my seat at 60 mph upside-down than be lodged into a tight space unable to move.

The time between locking me in and the compartment moving, I take deep breaths.  I close my eyes and try to imagine I’m in a wide open field and can see for miles.  I sit back from the few inches I procured and pretend the bar doesn’t exist. While others await their fear, I am waist-deep in mine.

English: Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri...

I rode to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.  Never again.  The view from the top is amazing.  Looking over the edge of the window and seeing nothing below is breathtaking.

Tram car, Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

It’s the ride between the top and ground I will never repeat.  You crouch down into a round little washing machine tub-like container.  The three of us sat knee to knee, faces only inches from each other.  The ride to the top was tedious, stopping periodically for the  washing machine tubs ahead of us.  I peered out the tiny porthole at the stairs and tried not to think of the stories I had heard about people getting stuck in there for hours.  I imagined I was in a chair in a room and looking across at the dimly lit industrial-blue stairs.  I tried not to think about the fact that this was the only way down again.

I remember playing with my friend Paul when I was a little girl.  For some reason we were laughing and running away from his big brother.  We ran into a closet and ducked under the lowest shelf.  His brother shut the door.  Giggling, my friend explained we were locked in.  Because of the shelf, we couldn’t reach the door knob.  There was no time to imagine I was anywhere else but locked in a dark closet.  Looking back, I’m sure it was only seconds, but in the time it took for the door to reopen, my heart was racing, tears had formed, panic had stricken.

P1030308

The close of an airplane hatch causes angst, and I don’t mind flying.  As a girl I wore dresses all the time, because I felt trapped in tight clothing like blue jeans.  Belts can ruin my day.  Crowds are frightening for someone 5 foot, 2 inches who can’t see past the back in front of her.  Recently, poor Bubba saw me lose it when my seat belt locked against my chest.

My earliest memory of claustrophobia is what I think might be my earliest memory at all.  If I stretched my arms all the way above my head, and reached my little toes all the way in the other direction, I could feel the hard, cold walls of my crib.  Sometimes I would wake and push on them and whimper in the dark.  I remember, even at that tender age, using my imagination to pretend that I was curled up in my parents large bed with no walls or rails between me and the floor.

I bet I was an interesting baby in the womb . . .

Peace . . .

rtt-new

Remember the Time Blog Hop inspired this post.  Need an excuse to luxuriate in the glories of nostalgia every week?  Then Remember the Time Blog Hop is for you!

Note:  The blog hop prompt now occurs every third Thursday of the month.

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7 thoughts on “Claustrophobic

  1. anniedm778

    I remember being in those things on a high school field trip. Went there when my children were little and we decided we didn’t want to be cooped up in the ball with two screaming children lol.

  2. My first claustrophobic memory…playing hide and seek with my brothers as a child. I hid in the big toy box and I remember thinking “what if some big fat man comes and sits on this toy box….will those three holes be enough to supply me with air?” Irrational yes….but who is rational? PS I didn’t even know a big fat man.

  3. I’m thinking Claustrophobia is a survival instinct that we come with. I’ve always had it too. Took lots of family and friends to see the St. Louis Arch, but refused to go in myself. No way, not happening. Don’t even like closed doors in my apartment. Good thing I live alone. 🙂 Great description, I could feel your panic.

  4. I’m not even particularly claustrophobic, but I completely agree with you that the ride up into the Arch in St. Louis was one of the most distressing moments I’ve ever had. I just wanted to get the heck out of that thing.

  5. I know what you mean about the Gateway Arch ride. The only thing that kept me sane inside that thing was the fact that I could see outside all those stairs and walkways, so I knew that if for any reason we got stuck, there was a way, however precarious, to get back down.

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