Not too many things scare me. Spiders gross me out, but don't scare me. Same with blood and guts stuff. Not scary. Just disgusting. I keep my cool on airplanes. I find large dogs endearing. I don't get creeped out when I'm home alone at night.
But parking garages?
I'm not sure if phobias are genetic, but I seem to have inherited claustrophobia from my father and his father. There are three places I get sick to my stomach just imagining being in:
3. Parking Garages
As a kid, I went in 2 separate museum exhibits, one that simulated going down into a mine and one a submarine. I cried. The entire time. I all but had a complete mental melt-down at the tender age of 8.
The second I pull my car into a parking garage, I can feel my heart rate double. My hands are sweating right now just thinking about it. The low ceilings make me nervous. As do the narrow passages. And the poor lighting. And all that hideous, hideous concrete.
When I'm forced to park in these death traps I have to make a split-second decision: park on the bottom level so I can get out as quickly as I can, or drive all the way to the top level so if the inevitable earthquake strikes I will have the least amount of rubble smashing me. I am an incredibly logical individual.
My Chicago parking garage experiences have not helped me overcome this irrational fear. The first time I took Avram out on the town by myself, I had to park in a Cave of Death to go to the Children's Hospital Clinic. Between attempting to get Ave and all his gear out of the car without locking the keys inside and trying to stifle my anxieties of being buried alive by cement blocks and car pieces, I somehow managed to get inside and to the doctor on time.
Unfortunately, I walked back out to the garage to find that I had left the back door wide open, and the keys on top of the trunk. You just can't make this stuff up, people.
Today, I circled the doctor's office for twenty minutes trying to find street parking. Unsuccessfully. I had to park in a garage. Even though I was running late, I drove all the way up to 12th level to park. I have a baby's safety to think of, after all, not just my own, so it seemed a completely rational decision. The unfortunate part was that I had to drive all the way up to the top. At a snail's pace. Somehow, we made it alive.
We came back after the doctor's appointment and I was pleased with myself for having shut and locked all doors, with the keys safely stored in my purse. I clenched the steering wheel with white knuckles for the whole 12 story descent and quickly paid my ticket. Phew. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, leading me safely back out to the street.
And then, disaster struck.
Apparently, I wasn't the only one circling the block for parking spots this morning. There was a spot just in front of the parking garage. One woman had passed the spot and was attempting to back in, while another woman had pulled up and tried to dive in head-first. They each had half of their car in the spot, and were in a total sudden death match. It felt like I was in a Seinfeld episode.
Normally I would have laughed and driven on by. But, lucky me, they were blocking the exit.
I was trapped.
I thought they would quickly resolve it themselves. That's what rational people do, right? But they didn't. They just sat there, staring at each other. The ultimate show down. The parking garage security dude was on lunch break. It was just the three of us.
So, I did what any Chicagoan would do.
They didn't blink.
I honked again.
They honked at each other.
And then I had a meltdown.
It took every ounce of self-control to not get out of my car and start screaming at these women. Ever since I had Avram it seems I have an extra shot of courage (or as J might argue, stupidity). I yelled at the kids setting off fireworks outside our apartment. I yelled at the teenage punk in the basement for cranking his music at 1am. I am Mama Bear: hear me roar. And then go all Edward Scissorhands on your face.
I think it is effective. J tells me it is stupid and dangerous. It must be hormones.
I put my head on the steering wheel and kept praying that God would just hold off the pending earthquake of doom until I got out of the parking garage. Please God don't let me die in a parking garage. If you love, don't let me die in a parking garage. Oh God. You can't give us a miracle baby and then have us buried alive in a parking garage. Anything but the parking garage. Sharks, tornado, bubonic plague. Anything but the parking garage.
Five minutes passed. Then ten. Nothing.
Miraculously, just as I was about to grab Ave out of his car seat, abandon the Avalon, and run to the Panera across the street for safety, a police officer happened to drive by. Oh thank God, I thought. Some sanity. Let's get out of here.
He got out of his squad car to investigate the situation, and quickly decided that the woman backing in was farther in the spot than the woman who had tried to go in head-first. The second woman huffed and puffed and threw a fit, but eventually complied. After being trapped inside the parking garage for nearing 20 minutes, we narrowly escaped complete disaster and imminent death.
As I drove home on Lake Shore I laughed at how ridiculous I had been. I mean, seriously. What are the odds of being trapped in a parking garage during an earthquake, considering I park in one 4, maybe 5 times a year? Buck up, Cassie girl.
Today the doctor told us that we should start occupational therapy to help Avram's hand coordination. This means that for the next 2-3 months, we will have weekly physical therapy, weekly occupational therapy, and bi-weekly helmet adjustments. As soon as she told me, the fears and doubts and worries started creeping in.
What if he always has to have therapy? What if it doesn't help? What if he can't do all the things little boys are supposed to do? Is it always going to be two steps forward and one step back? Will we ever have just one month doctor free?
I know I should be happy that he is getting even more help. I know I should be assured that we are getting some of the absolute best medical care in the country. I know it's what I prayed for. I know it is a good thing.
I'm just feeling a little trapped in the parking garage, and I want so badly to get him out.