As a child I was anxious, prone to a wild imagination. Upon hearing news of some catastrophe half-way around the world, I would immediately assume it was happening here, happening now, going to happen to me. Impending doom.
Maybe this is the result of too many fairy tales where girls were always the victim. Or perhaps this was the actual fallout from the Cold War—to be ready for any eventuality.
I remember one night hearing on the radio about a volcano erupting. I could imagine liquid fire pouring out of the mouth and down the sides of the volcano like icing on a cake, pulsing and ebbing ever closer. I could hardly sleep. In fact I was so terrified I sprung from my bed and opened the door and ran outside into the night. It took both of my parents to convince me that this eruption, this volcano was thousands of miles away.
I soon learned to brace myself for earthquakes. I practiced ducking and covering, diving under a wobbly card table. My classroom at school would often conduct tornado drills where we kindergarteners were herded into hallways and taught to crouch against a southwestern wall. At least a tornado could happen in Ohio.
Then there was the tidal wave. How does one escape a wall of water? There were no hills to climb in Washington Township. I devised a plan where I’d run to our neighbor’s house, the Bingosheas(spelling?). Somehow the old lady who sometimes looked after me when my mother was sick would keep me safe.
It took a number of these incidents to teach me that I wasn’t in danger. But, I never got over the fear—that my parents weren’t able to protect me.