How I Acquired Agorophobia

February 6, 2010
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As the door of the Taco Bell restroom came crashing down on top of me, all I could think to say was, “I said I’d be out in a minute.” Lying there, under the weight of the swinging door that was no longer attached to its frame because of some meathead, I debated making an effort to get up while the restaurant manager debated calling an ambulance. “There’s obviously something wrong with him,” the twenty-two-year-old college dropout sneered, tipping the greasy work cap that was covering his hairnet to the right and wiping his nose with his forearm. There was something comforting about simply not moving, even if it meant the germs on the bathroom floor, which hadn’t been mopped in eight days according to the cleaning chart on the back of the door, were multiplying by the thousands all over me. A small crowd of low-lifes that had nothing better to do with their Tuesday afternoon than be at Taco Bell started to gather and gaze stupidly at the spectacle before them. And people wonder why I don’t leave my house.

I haven’t stepped out of my front door since that Tuesday afternoon six years ago. The 5.4 mile drive home in the dirt-colored Geo my step-mom left in my driveway after my wife left me (thank you step-zilla) gave me enough time to contemplate my entire life. After getting up and walking nonchalantly out of the Taco Bell to relieve the feeling of the germs of the cold tile seeping through my clothes, I was somehow reminded of things like that one Christmas I ate leftover Dominos out of a cooler in the trunk of my car by myself, or the time I dropped my toothbrush in the toilet at the age of eleven. The thing about dropping your toothbrush in the toilet is that you only get one toothbrush at boot camp. Now that is an emotional scar no eleven year old gets over, even one who has been hardened by a set of parents who love him enough to give him a ship date.

I have been labeled by many as having agoraphobia, which Webster defines as an “abnormal fear of being helpless in an embarrassing or inescapable situation that is characterized by the avoidance of open or public spaces.” If you ask me, avoiding public places should not be abnormal. I mean, have you seen the world lately? Have you actually talked to people? When was the last time you had an interesting conversation with someone who wasn’t drunk or socially dysfunctional? In truth, the “embarrassing and inescapable situation” Mr. Webster is talking about is the one where I am constantly surrounded by idiots. And in this situation, yes, I am helpless.

You could argue that people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Power Rangers fought with their lives so we could have our freedom. You could argue that not leaving your house is abusing that freedom, destroying it, eliminating your contribution to society and the world. I am not weak for staying inside while the rest of the world deteriorates around me. I’m not diseased, I’m not crazy. I’ve simply seen the light. Personally, I’d rather be alone with my thoughts in my own house than lying on the bathroom floor of a Taco Bell wondering why my college roommate had to tell everybody that I still wet the bed, and why, at my dad’s funeral, my mom’s friend came up to me and asked me how I knew the family. I’ll take solitude over the cruelty and stupidity of the world any day. Let me know when you’ve seen the light too.





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reygizzle said...
Dec. 12, 2012 at 5:13 pm
I have agoraphobia, but I haven't seen the light like how you explained. You enjoy staying inside, while I on the other wish more than anything, to leave my house. I think that neither of us have truly found the light, but I hope its soon.
 
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