Wednesday, June 13, 2012

starry nights with the robbers

    Dear Harriet Walter,

    As you know, I am living in a shed in someone’s backyard right now (albeit a shed that has been made into a perfect, serene little bedroom/sitting room/walk-in closet). Because it is in the backyard, and because I spend many evenings in the main house with the family and have to get ready for bed in the main house in any case, every night I have to walk a few feet from the back door to the door of my shed. Without any light, because I go to bed around when my Auntlet does and she turns off all the house lights when she goes to bed, as one does.

    I was never afraid of the dark as a child. I don’t know why I’ve started being so now, in my advanced age. I step out into that little space, those few short steps between doors, and a primal fear of the unknown comes and clutches at me like some sort of strangling, clutching thing that does not respect the personal space of my emotions.

    I’ve discovered a trick to calm myself, though.

    As soon as I begin to feel afraid of the darkness, I stand up straight and whisper this phrase into the night:

    “Go away, robbers and bad men.”

    Don’t ask me to explain it. I can’t explain it. I am not in particular dread of burglars right now; this is not a rich neighborhood. I whisper the command as I enter into darkness, and I instantly feel safer and more in control. I then usually pause and stare up into the night sky and look at the stars, and I am made calm and deep, reminded of the vast and beautiful contexts I exist within.

    Then I make it to the shed, hurriedly switch on the lamps while whispering, “go away!” and turn around and close the door and whisper, “go away!” to the night behind me.

    I check for robbers and bad men inside the wardrobe while I put my clothes away, of course, but I don’t think I need to check under my fairly low-set bed before sleeping in it because frankly between my vintage suitcases and my violin there is not room to fit a robber of any substance under there.

not my photo.

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