This week, Egyptians lost their patience, scaring themselves and the rest of us. David Kato, a gay rights activist in Uganda, was beaten to death with a hammer at his own home. And I ran away from the car wash like someone had a gun to my head.
I love the drive-through car wash, and I’ve always loved it. Cozy, comforting noises. Watching the soap glop around, and then the water droplets stretch and fly off. After easing completely off my anti-anxiety meds, and feeling good all week, being in line for that car wash started to make my brain spaz out. There was no escape from the line. And then I’d be stuck in that car wash for five solid minutes. No escape. Once my car’s turn was up, my brain were as terrified of that car wash as I would normally be of a huge roller coaster. Someone was with me, so we swapped places, and I went into the convenience store.
The Egyptians reminded me of the American revolution, how messy and violent it must have been. Everyone who relies on tourist money must be worried. It’s a big moment when your fear of change is overcome by your fear of staying the same. Hearing the word Egypt, I see the painstakingly flat, neat figures of ancient paintings I love, but here Egyptians are round and vulnerable and vibrant and changing. As of course they always have been– I’ve just spent a lot more time imagining ancient Egypt than modern Egypt. Someday I hope to give them my tourist dollars, and get a look at both.
The display of gum at that gas station looked like Vegas to me. The intensity of lights and sounds and smells with a migraine is similar. I went into the bathroom, and it felt like a tomb. The ceiling and walls pressed in on me. Back outside, the sunset was dabs of pink clouds that looked way too pink. I can’t believe anyone takes drugs on purpose to create these kinds of sensations. I took a pill so the sky would stop pressing down, and the gum would look like gum again.
The Kato case got overtaken by the Egyptian crisis, in the news. I find it troubling not just out of compassion for his suffering, but because demonizing homosexuality is an unethical and ineffective way to deal with our fear of sex. Sex is scary and powerful and mysterious for everyone. It doesn’t help to set up some particular group as the “perverts,” flat wrong. It just makes us all more afraid.
I’ve mostly written about my panic attacks just so they doesn’t fester in me as something shameful. My brain is afraid of car washes, airplanes, and movie theaters. Whether that’s tragic or comic, I can be shamelessly objective in observing it, and try to stay round and vulnerable. It helps to report and muse. And my new meds may help, too. My fear of changing is less than my fear of staying the same.