Happy Independence Day! Boom! Crash! Hold Me…

(courtesy Melissa Bowersock, WANA Creative Commons)

(courtesy Melissa Bowersock, WANA Creative Commons)

July 4 is the one day of the year our little island suffers from traffic jams. For some reason, even with a year-round population of under 2,500, we boast a fireworks display that rivals that of Seattle. Seriously. It lasts for 30 minutes, with a finale that sucks the breath out of you. An extra ferry runs on the 4th, just to accommodate all the onlookers…who then get stuck in traffic trying to negotiate our single road along the bay.

Me? All that traffic gives me the perfect excuse to stay away. I’ll be watching from a distance of about six miles, as the raven flies. From our roof, we can see the fireworks just fine.

They’ll still be gorgeous. And even better…they’ll be QUIET.

I am one of those people who hates loud noises. Let me give you some examples:

As a kid, running track races, I used to plug my ears at the starting line. If I were in the lead heading for the “gun lap,” I used to dread speeding by the starter who would obligingly shoot that gun one more time, just for me.

Invited to birthday parties, I would do a quick surveillance. Any balloons? Hmmm, a few. Any rowdy boys who looked like they’d consider stomping on those balloons to be fun times? Uh-oh…stomach-knots.

(original image courtesy Lynn Kelley Author, WANA creative commons)

(original image courtesy Lynn Kelley Author, WANA creative commons)

Holding a board for my dad to hammer, I’d wince at each blow.

1812 Overture? Getoutahere!

And don’t even talk to me about thunderstorms. Please. Even now, my stomach clenches a little, remembering how I’d do a little pre-bedtime sky-check. Stars out? Phew–dreamland, here I come. Cloudy? Uh-oh. Can I fall asleep before the storm and maybe sleep through it? Too late…best turn the fan up to its loudest setting, fight with my sister about closing the window, and get ready to suffocate beneath my blanket, eyes squeezed shut against the lightning which only ratcheted up the dread. Oh man. How old is too old to crawl into bed with Mom and Dad?

(original photo courtesy Melissa Bowersock, WANA creative commons)

(original photo courtesy Melissa Bowersock, WANA creative commons)

(Did I mention that I grew up in North Carolina? Where summer thunderstorms are as common as beer cans on roadsides?)

So you might have figured out by now why Independence Day wasn’t my favorite holiday as a kid.

Over the years, I’ve learned to adjust. When people invite me to fireworks-viewings, I counter-invite them to MY place, where I know in advance just how loud–or NOT loud–those beautiful, scary explosions will be.

I don’t run races very often any more, but when I do, I clench my fists on the starting line and don’t let my fingers anywhere near my ears, much as they want to go there. Who’s a big girl now?

I’m proud to say hammers don’t make me wince any more. Baby steps!

Oh, and since I moved to the Pacific Northwest 23 years ago, thunderstorms are a distant nightmare memory.

You might wonder why I’m so willing to share this humiliating weakness of mine. It’s because, somewhere along the way, I decided that I suffer from a PHOBIA.

I’m not “scared” of loud noises: I’m PHOBIC! In fact, I’m PHONOPHOBIC. 

Phobias are cool. I have a lot of company being phobic. I can even be proud of all the common phobias I DON’T happen to suffer from, like spiders and heights, all while proudly maintaining my spot in the phobic sisterhood.

Why does this make me feel better? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with that nice, big word. PHONOPHOBIC. Yup. THAT I will proudly own. I will celebrate! I will have a party.

Just please don’t bring balloons.

YOU’RE INVITED…not only to my phonophobia party, but to share some phobias of your own. Or are they just fears? Is there a difference? What do you think? What’s the weirdest phobia you will admit to? I love hearing from you, and I promise I won’t make fun. No fingers crossed.

11 thoughts on “Happy Independence Day! Boom! Crash! Hold Me…

  1. Rodents. I have had several traumatic experiences. One of which involved (almost) being settled into my grandmother’s fold out bed in the dark. At the last minute they turned on the light and saw the dead mouse and the maggots. Oh god, I don’t want to talk about it…..

  2. Loved the post, Gretchen. I remember crawling into my sisters bed at night when we’d have a thunderstorm. I’d count the seconds between the thunder and lightning. I actually kind of miss them–guess I’m a big girl now, too! Happy 4th to you!

  3. Wonderful post, Gretchen! I remember having to shelter my son in the car from the falling fireworks. For me, it’s heights — acrophobia. See, Phobia sisters! LOL. Happy Independence Day, Gretchen.

  4. I love fireworks, from a distance. It’s not the noise that frightens me as much as memories of evil boy children on bonfire night throwing fireworks at the girls feet and roaring with laughter at our protests (and screams lols – I wonder why they kept doing it).
    My phobia is crowds and its taken me a long time to be able to stand in one long enough to watch a whole rock concert for example!

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