I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t a nervous or anxious child, but it was never unreasonable by any means. I was afraid of movie theaters because the loud noises made the ground shake. Well anyone who knew how my father died in front of me wouldn’t find that unexpected. And yes, I did cry for my mom in school, not in pre-school, but in 4th grade. But I had a particularly evil teacher that year and it made grief resurface and then I became afraid to leave my mom for fear she’d disappear in an ambulance and I’d never see her again.
I used to get butterflies in my stomach a lot. I got excited for the holidays and I’d get butterflies. I got excited the night before vacations and I wouldn’t be able to sleep and I’d wake up with nice little butterflies. I got some pretty angry butterflies right before my Bat Mitzvah but you try singing Hebrew in front of 200 people and tell me how that goes for you. And then I got some downright furious butterflies in 10th grade when I really, really liked this boy from another school and he showed up in my town and asked me to his prom. I think I lost five pounds that week and I had a dress I was supposed to fill out. Those were some intense nerves. They were nothing I couldn’t handle, though.
In all honesty, I talk about anxiety-related-nausea sometimes but I can count on one hand the number of times it happened in childhood. It wasn’t until I was older that my heart grew at a disproportionate rate from the rest of my body. I no longer got butterflies in my stomach. They became angry hornets.
But it’s mostly nothing I can’t handle. Would I rather feel too much at once and get occasional hornets in my stomach or would I rather feel less and sail through life without hornets? I choose hornets. They’re not that bad really. Sometimes their buzzing becomes a very dull drone in the background of my life. Sometimes they’re gone for years. Sometimes they annoy the piss out of me and I wish I had a big enough fly swatter. But you know all this about me. This isn’t new.
What’s new is that I’m nervous right now. I’m flying to Florida tomorrow at the crack of dawn with Cassidy’s mom and with Scarlet. Traveling makes me a bit anxious. Traveling with a toddler makes me moderately anxious. Traveling to see my grandparents, who I haven’t seen in several years and who are now 97 and 99 (99!), makes me very anxious. I know they’ll have changed a lot since I last saw them. I know I’ll have changed. I won’t be seeing them in the only house I’ve ever known them in. They’ll be older, I’ll be older, I now have a kid.
I’ve had a pretty difficult week and last night I thought long and hard about everything going on and I sat down and waited for the angry hornets to attack me. And you know what? They didn’t. Not one sting. Not one buzz.
And it occurred to me then that everything, everyone, is going to be alright. It’s all good. People get older, but they live long enough to hold their great-granddaughters in their arms. Many times in life, it’s too late. You’re too late. I’m not too late right now. I’m right in time. The cycle of life repeats itself endlessly, but time will stand still for me tomorrow in the warm Florida sun. I expected hornets but I was stronger this time. Just good old-fashioned butterflies for me.