The fear has me today.

I would like to say “I’d like to go for a walk through the neighborhood, snap some pictures, maybe pop down to the park and shoot those strange, ingrown trees that I drive past every now and then” but, really, I have absolutely no desire to leave. The prospects are too scary.

No, I’ll likely not be harmed; neither is it likely that I’ll find myself in any trouble, or be asked any questions, or even be noticed by anyone.

A dog might bark at me, and I might be momentarily startled, but that’s not what bothers me.

I might be approached for some food money, or beer money, or directions, or by someone who sees something they want me to see too, and such encounters would likely go by without any great distress.

I know that if I pretend that I’m supposed to be doing whatever it is that I’m doing, and if I look like I’m supposed to be doing whatever it is that I’m doing (taking a walk), nobody will bother me about it, and it’s unlikely anyone will notice me at all.

These sorts of rationalizations are of no use whatsoever.

Correction: these sorts of rationalizations only serve to make me feel even more deficient.

I hoped this project would help me find some pathways out of the house, and I have ventured out a few times: the first was uneventful, save for a barking dog and some people who waved at me from their porch; during the second, some policemen were accosting a pair of African American gentlemen about my age, and as I approached one of the officers asked if I made the 911 call, and I felt angry and guilty and fraudulent, and moments later, a friendly latino gentleman warned me to ‘better watch that fancy camera around here’; the third time I turned the corner and ran into a pack of middle-school aged girls, walking home from school and you wouldn’t even believe the terror that gripped me as I walked past them and made the quickest possible return to the safety of my cave, while attempting to remain nonchalant.

As a result of that last outing, more recent excursions have been far closer to home: out into the courtyard, or maybe down the alley, but never anywhere where I might run into friendly people or laughing children.

It takes a funeral to get me out to see friends. Invitations to dinner or for drinks, going away parties, soandso’s back parties are all insufficient.

Going out to breakfast with my mother: by all appearances, I’m having a great time. Believe me, it’s a carefully constructed and controlled mask.

Photo Meetups are horrifying affairs, and I’ve arrived to more than one only to speed away when I saw the size of the crowd of friendly people with whom I share a hobby.

Introversion is one thing. I wonder if this isn’t something else. I should probably visit a doctor or find someone to help me, but that would require opening the door, and it’s assured that I would be discovered, found out, realized, and the prospect, the mere thought, is absolutely terrifying, beyond anything I can imagine. It’s the way I felt about deep, fast-moving water for several years after those lifeguards pulled me out of the river and I hacked up all that water. It’s the way I felt about roller coasters after I flipped that car. But it’s different in that it has no basis in reality, no ultimate event that I can point to and say “that. That right there. That’s why I am this way.”

I feel moderately better now that I’ve flung this out into the void. Thank you, void.

D7000. LensBaby 50mm f/2 Muse (Plastic). ISO100, 1/15th, f/2, -1EV. ~40 seconds of processing in Aperture.

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