I stumbled across a video of a tall woman trapped inside a dryer. I watched in amazement as the fire department maneuvered her this way and that to free her from the metal drum that ached to spin left or right with each movement. Several questions immediately came to mind and I wished for the prequel to this story to help understand how a woman finds herself inside the drum of a dryer. That video would most likely include alcohol and encouraging friends. Sadly, no answers were to be found so I moved on to watch other things such as videos of pigs wiggling their ears in unison when their names were called and brave youngsters jumping off of cliffs into the deep blue waters of places that whisper my name in my dreams.
That night, after an hour of trying to make a nest in my bed and finally falling to sleep, I did not dream of far away seas or beautiful waters. The lady in the dryer filled my thoughts, leaving me anxious and wide-eyed, once again. As I lay there with one foot out of the covers, I realized that I may have a touch of claustrophobia. The signs have been there all along. I just haven't paid attention. Incapable of being pinned down by the weight of my own bedding, I thought back to a time as a child where I found myself locked in a gas station bathroom. I'm sure I was probably only in there for minutes before my family found the garage owner and the door was opened, but I remember the panic to this day. Years later, my daughter and I would find ourselves trapped on an elevator in Washington D.C. for several minutes. In those few short minutes, I remained outwardly calm, while my insides tumbled like the very dryer that tall women crawled inside. My body filled with heat, my heart raced, and I assessed if I could actually jump 8 feet to the trap door like some super hero. I could not. I thought about how I could lift my tiny tot to the trap door if needed and quickly realized the flaws in that plan because certainly a 60 pound child could not lift her mother up into the elevator shaft and who in their right mind would allow her to try. If she had that power, she could rip the doors open and we would be on our way to the pool as originally planned. As my respirations became rapid, the doors opened and we were free. The adrenaline rush carried us quickly down the hall to the blue waters and open air where we were safe, once again.
I've spent my life unaware of my fear of closed spaces. On another family trip, I was quick to sign us up for the Mammoth Cave tour. It was the height of summer and the cool air that rushed forth from the cave entrance was welcoming and exciting. We were half way though the tour in the dark, when the guide informed us that the cave ceiling to our right had collapsed the year before. It was at that very moment that the tour was over for me. The group moved forward and I stood still, unable to move deeper into the dark. Of a cave. A cave where the ceiling can suddenly collapse. With no warning. Unfortunately, the only thing scarier than moving further into a dark, unstable cave, is to be left behind in a dark, slowly, crumbling million year old cave. My husband took my hand and pulled me forward. He had one child on his shoulders and another one dragging their feet behind him. I immediately began mapping out emergency plans in my head. If only I had breadcrumbs, a long rope and some extra lanterns. I had none. The guide told stories of those who had wandered into the dark only to lose their way and never leave the tight confines of the damp, dark cave. And I paid for this, I thought. I was not there seeking refuge. I had not entered because circumstances deemed this the safer place for me. I had picked up a flyer in Shoney's restaurant and while downing a Big Boy Burger, I believed that I could be an adventurer, too. I might as well have been trapped in a dryer. Everything in me tumbled into mush and I closed my eyes and held on tight until daylight returned.
Finding oneself in a tight space is one thing. Thinking it's a good choice to go there in the first place is another thing. I wish I could have spoken to the tall women in the dryer before she made choices with an adventurous spirit. I would have told her I commend her desire to venture into unknown territory, but perhaps she should choose a location that doesn't spin freely or have tumbling sides. Most importantly, I would tell her if she has friends who want to film her headed towards danger, she should most likely choose better friends. She needs friends who will take her hand and lead her away from danger, not towards it. Then, when the drum rolls or the sky falls, she will be safe in the care of those who actually love her.