31 August 2004
I set out today to conquer one of my greatest fears, to go shopping alone. After lunch, I only brought my wallet and bus pass to shop for a book at Manor, the nearest mall.
In trying to find the book I was looking for, I realized that 10,000 steps would not make appear what wasn’t there. I had to call for back-up. Consulting a trusted friend on which book to buy, which volume to choose and where to buy it was a relief. I had found myself at Payot Librairie on rue du Mont Blanc. (“Call a friend” on “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”)
When I got there, I was directed to go downstairs after asking in what broken French I knew how to say. When I got downstairs, I asked again and the lady politely in French, told me to go upstairs because the book was there. I tried to scan the volumes of books shelved on the walls to find what I was looking for. Finally, I found it. Then, hit another dilemma…It only came in French. I asked another attendant (again) where I could find an English version. I found myself redirected to the basement (again). This had become a shopping nightmare. I called a friend for a “lifeline please.” My friend couldn’t come for another 30 minutes. My apprehension became a reality. I was alone at Payot reading and couldn’t sit still as was not used to shopping alone.
Meanwhile, what I set out to do seemed to be backfiring. And while this was playing in the foreground, the backdrop was even more dramatic. Flash-backing to lunch, one of my brothers asked for my mom to leave the keys. My mom left her keys. My brother forgets to take the keys and leaves the house. I, not seeing it as a problem, left with my key.
One hour later, my brother calls me and asks for the key. I was at Payot then. He picks up my key and another hour later, he’s still not home and I was in the garden not answering nature’s call. The keys came via delivery (c/o driver) and I got into the house. I saw another set of keys (my other brothers who was with my other brother) but not the third one. So, I thought, they had another key. I not worrying again left the house with my key.
Then, an hour later, my mom calls me up asking for the key. I said my brother had it why doesn’t he come home to bring it. I was about 20 minutes away as opposed to his 10 minutes. Despite my anger, I had to go home since my brother said he didn’t have a key and I would be questioning his honesty. And we wouldn’t want that, do we?
A rage and a half later, I found myself on the street again, “key-less” and wandering around Pont D’Arve where the melancholic river grew a gray colored cover and where my friend and I were so close to the first time. She had to leave for another commitment and I walked the streets of Geneva.
Aching feet, hurt heart, and some 500 words later, I am here at Lake Geneva near Bel-Air, accompanied by swans at the lake shore.
I am still fuming with texts stained with profanities from my brother because he bore the wrath of my mother’s punishment of banned PC usage. The anger was waning but the hurt wasn’t.
And what I set out to do this afternoon – to shop along became a night of alone time.
It was more than conquering my fear of shopping. It is being independent of leaning on someone even during the greatest time of need.
That’s the lesson of conquering your fears…you come out stronger than you thought you could.
(This is a very sedate story. It has been edited for content.)