Sunday, June 01, 2008

Departure Anxiety

Today, I brought C to the airport for his flight north. We joked about what we have come to call my “departure anxiety”. I fret the comings and goings. Do I have my keys? My license? Credit cards? Gym card? Cash? Kleenex? Have I applied enough sunblock? Is the cell phone charged? Should I bring the camera? Where are my sunglasses? Coupons? Directions? Are we leaving with enough time to get to the destination? Do you think I’ll need a hat? Is there an umbrella in the car? Is there a clean towel in the gym bag? Chapstick? Tickets? Should I drink more water to keep from dehydrating? Keys? Right. Already in my pocket. I run through the list again. And when the trip is longer than local, there are the additional matters of clothing, extra contact lenses, vitamins distributed into the compartments of a seven-day container, and on and on.

As if my own meticulous efforts to manage my own simple movements are not enough, I run all those questions past C to make sure he hasn’t forgotten to assemble those articles for his own person. He rolls his eyes, and I am saved by our ability to laugh at this little neurosis.

But what is behind it?

What cosmic upset, what irreparable inconvenience, what blinking red failure am I so afraid of?

Here are the possibilities:

a) My life is so complicated that without the strenuous attention to detail, the entire fabric unravels beginning with some small frayed edge that had escaped my attention.
b) My life is so uncomplicated that I magnify the simplest of things to fill the vacancies left by bigger problems.
c) I am so enamoured of my current life that I fear the dropping of a shoe, first one and then the other because, as we all know, nobody has the right to real and durable happiness to the likes of which I now cling suspiciously.
d) I am the laziest bum on the planet, convinced that someone else (maybe the man on the jet going north) ought to be handling all these details so that I can serenely enter and exit any given room with nothing in hand and no obligation beyond charm, a land in which I have already carved my Rushmores.
e) I am a natural worrier who derives some sort of healthy endorphin release by this activity.

And then there is the fact that despite my Herculean efforts to accomplish laundry without disaster, why is a sock missing? I retrace my steps and inspect the three simple and accessible vehicles involved: a hamper, a washer and a dryer. The distance among them might be measured in inches. How can such a thing happen? What fresh hell, what godly interference, what manipulative unseen force, what obvious conspiracy is at play here?

Answers. I will have them, and drive everybody crazy in the getting.

And then, there are the typos.


SubtleKnife said...

I don't do typos. (And if you happen to find any, it's the program's fault, not mine...)

Usually I think I can keep this underlying neurosis under control quite well, but today I was a lot like you (although I ended up forgetting chapstick).

I have an excuse: it was my first time in charge of a Unitarian Universalist service and I was extremely nervous. (The problem with irrational fears is that they don't listen to reason, one of mine is public speaking.)

At the General Meeting directly afterwards I was voted on the board as head of the worship committee, so I guess it went okay...

Birdie said...

(Should I say it?) There is one typo, unless you follow British punctuation rules. Yeah, that's the ticket.

I live with someone just like you; and yes, you do drive us nuts unless we learn to laugh about it. My life has been filled with laughter for 36 years—well, let's say 33 years. It took awhile.

As a fellow perfectionist without quite the neurosis, let me offer this: sometimes, good enough is good enough. (And you're more than good enough.)

R J Keefe said...

What I want to know is how my wife, on her many travels, manages to run through all the checklists with no fretting at all.

I'll tell you why I'm neurotic, though: when I screw up, when I forget something, the consequence is never less than a pebble that can't be removed from a shoe — not until I'm home again.

Tony Adams said...

Exactly, RJ, and as we all know, one can never go home again.

The Bum said...

What? No all of the above?

Anonymous said...

OCD comes in many forms, some very very slight and some more disrupting and painful. Your's is a very mild case, not to fret.

Bruno said...

I had a friend,
He has the same habit.
he told of a story of his youth.
learning to use his "special potty" the little wooden seat with a shallow plastic bucket for a bowl and a small animal shaped plastic shell up front for a piss guard (his was a ducky)
One fine day, He had it down, we was going to be a "grown up"
on his own, he answered the call of nature,
He did all the right things,
He took all the right actions, and steps.
He made sure the guard was in place,
He wiped,
He was a grown up and proud!
Bursting with pride, we went out and told his
Aunts and Uncles
who were all gathered for a special celebration.
As responsible adults do,
They all filed into the room to praise and say
"What a big boy!"
He leading the procession,
Bursting with pride
only to find
he hadn't checked to see if the little plastic bucket was there,
It wasn't

Cooper said...

I am e with a capital E. Natural born worrier.

As for the sock thing ... kids socks disappear into the laundry ether at three times the rate of adult ones. I presently have a colourful array waiting to reunited with their more adventurous mates. Where do they go?? There's a job out there somewhere for a sock yenta.

Anonymous said...

...carve your Rushmores.

So timely a way to describe your moment, given the outcome of today's South Dakota primary. Perfect.

Doralong said...

Precisely the reason the universe sent you a partner that can humor you. Thus the scale balances yet again and the universe aligns.

Personally I figure if nobody bled and nobody died it's only worth getting so worked up over.. Hence the reason I've spent 27 years with a mildly OCD man.

Anonymous said...

You sound like I guess I'm glad I'm the laid back one. I still wish we'd gotten together with you and Christ for coffee on Monday before we left. I still remember being so surprised meeting you what a calming effect you have on those around you. I wish I could be surrounded with that aura.

So reading about the disturbing feelings you were having, I was surprised.

Anonymous said...

I fly to meetings every week around the USA. Thank God I love to travel. NO departure anxiety for me.

My Overeducated Redneck doesn't travel much for work, and has the same OCD as you, Father Tony. The OE is a wonderful travel companion, he just has to check to make sure he has everything several times.

My crazy comes when I drive away from our home, and wonder if I set the house alarm and closed the garage door. For some reason, I need to SEE the garage door go all the way down to the ground. It is a nice new garage door. It works perfect every time. It is my only neurosis. It only happens when I drive away from the house, not when I leave the house in the town car.

The OE says I am channeling my sweet Mother. He may be right. My Mom has gone back into the house to get things my entire life.