I wake, disoriented. I discover myself in a house “someplace else” with a group of young Japanese men, and worry that I will miss my plane, scheduled to take off hours from now. I learn there is only one departure a day and fear I will be stranded for a week. Then I am standing at a hotel desk, worried about how I will get a ride. I suffer as much from my agaorphobia when I don’t travel as when I do. My anxiety is no different except that it happens in my dreaming and not my waking life. I never return. How, then, did agoraphobia become a byproduct of something other than a fear of space? A cutting off.
I wake, feeling as if I have not slept. I walk with my therapist into her new office. It is a luminous white—walls, ceiling, floor—as if a light box. Disorienting. We talk amiably as she unpacks and arranges her desk. Then she leaves, and I wander about. I hear a knock at the warehouse door in the back. I open it and see far down the basement stairs a black youth, with others standing behind him, wanting to come up. At first acquiescent I grow uneasy, and close the door and lock it. They become angry and threatening. “We know who you are.” Shiny sewing scissors appear.
The scissors are associated with a confusion of women in my life—my mother, my grandmother, my therapist. Castration. Or the fear of possession. The scissors suggest a cutting off of the cause of my anxiety, the basement threat and what I fear happened there. The return of the repressed. The object of the phobia is not the original source of the anxiety. I wish to travel, I stay put. What do I fear I am traveling towards? Home. Death.
I wake, depressed, preoccupied, upset. I turn off my AC and listen to the hum of all those in the apartments around me, an unnatural sound. I read a few of Adam Zagajewski’s poems: You come here like a stranger/ but this is your family home. Agoraphobic I start from the neither here nor there.
I read Donald Hall’s account of his near death from congestive heart failure, and his return to life. Grief and applause. Hall in his extreme old age, nearing ninety, is at home, surrounded by family, friends, and caregivers. What if I cannot my way back? What if I die alone? How do I not give up? My life sheared off.