I was left looking up into the dark sky, rain drops falling through the gap in the smoke-shelter roof. It was midnight and the place was thronging with people, dance music pounding. My head felt other worldly because of the alcohol and the nicotine pulsing through my brain. Senses heightened, I perched, alone, on the edge of a damp picnic table looking skyward. ‘Yeah, it’s fine,’ I’d said, ‘you guys go home. I’ll be fine,’ channelling my inner feminist that said, ‘guys can be in pubs on their own, so can women’. But the sober me knows that there’s a big difference between theory and practice.
Just as the reality of being in alone in a club on a wet September night began to sink in I turned round to find my friend, G, grinning at me. The risk had been worth it. I’d been rescued from social oblivion. Four fun hours later, after a really in-depth chat and throwing shapes to some classic dancefloor tracks I wobbled home. Risk taken, rewards reaped. A night to remember.
This Saturday my best mate invited me to go to a fair with his kids. Last year the thought of going anywhere with heaving masses of people would have brought me out in a sweat and my brain would have gone into meltdown panic mode. But, to quote my boss, I put on ‘my big girl pants’ accepted the invitation and jumped in the van. An hour later we were indeed pushing through a solid block of people, but my brain stayed calm, there was no panic attack. I’m underplaying this, as for the last few years crowded places have rendered me insensible and turned me into a sobbing mess. For me to deal with this much humanity packed into one place with total equanimity is something of a miracle. At this same fair I was also talked into taking my mate’s 12-year-old on two rides. Something that I’d normally avoid like the plague owing to the vertigo and motion sickness fairground rides tend to induce. But as my mate had recently been in hospital I took one for the team, or rather two, and took his son on two vomit-inducing rides whereby I screamed and closed my eyes as I was hurtled round and round and up and down contained within a tin can. Pure hell. But, I survived, despite feeling epically vomity and shaky legged afterwards. But it was worth it, as 12-year-olds can be difficult to get to know and me joining this one the rides he wanted meant that we had a shared experience we could laugh about.
I’m learning that if you let go of things, and more especially try to let go of the fear that can envelop things that good experiences can come out of them. It’s always the fear of something that’s worse than the thing itself.