It's not that I don't like a good ol' county fair. Quite the contrary-- I love animals, fried food, beer, and midway games. I'll drop $20 without a second thought if someone gives me a dart and some balloons to hit. Sure, the prize may be a tiny stuffed alligator that cost .03 to make, but I love it. In the past, it was a great time to get together with friends, listen to local bands, and drink cheap beer. Now it's a different story.
And it's not as if Norah didn't have fun. I doubt she could have had more fun had we gone to Disney World. She desperately loves animals and with each new one she saw, she got the same amazed-aghast-thrilled look on her beautiful face. Mouth wide open, eyes searching for me as if to say, "Are you seeing this?!" and laughter that could barely even escape from her throat. I couldn't even feel my normal pity and sadness for the animals trapped in the cramped petting zoo in the sweltering humidity and heat because Norah was so flippin' happy.
|Girls having fun, me worrying about duck bites|
The girls rode ponies, and again, even though it was hot, the ponies had probably been walking slowly in a circle all day in the heat, and they had to endure miserable little kids sweating and dripping ice cream on them, I pushed those thoughts out of my head and tried to memorize Norah's look of pure joy. She got off the pony and politely said, "Bye, Horse," and gave him/her a pat on the nose.
So what's my problem? The babies had a blast. I was there with my pals. There were minidonuts. Utopia.
But I realized that night, as I tried to fall asleep, that I will always and forever be in a different state of mood. I will never be able to let go and have fun. Ever again.
I had a good time, yes. But there is always a very prevalent feeling of alertness and worry. No matter if we're at a county fair in central Minnesota or camping or shopping or at the splash pad or wherever. I have two streams of thought above all else-- Norah is having fun! She is so cute and awesome! This is great! and then I have the low drumming of strangers... keep her in sight... animal bites... dirty... too many people... weather... too warm/cold.... hurt... danger...
Even camping I had felt like this. The whole time. I wondered if my companions felt the same, if Ryan did. He was happily giving wagon rides to the kids and picking wild flowers. I was doing the same sorts of things, but also thinking bugs... injuries... sun... weather... keep her in sight... I don't know that one second went by that I just felt... content.
Even at Play Land at the mall. She's having a blast with the other kids. I'm thinking Why is that freak sitting over there looking in here? Those kids are running too fast. They're going to run over Norah. Can she get a foot disease in here? These kids look dirty.
It's a dark and heavy feeling in my chest. A dread. I'm ok when we're playing in our living room. I'm ok at Sara and John's or my Mom and Dad's. But I feel like I should be carrying a first aid kit (or just go back for some kind of medical degree), have my black belt in karate, and be concealing and carrying when doing pretty much anything else. Because there's a real threat at the Waite Park Public Library. Psycho.
Does this ever go away? I may have to call my mom and ask her if she has ever had fun in the last 32 years. Maybe I don't want to know the answer.