It’s Been Seven Months Since I’ve Seen a Machine Gun

Once again I’m struck by the absurdity that is my life. Never in a million years had I imagined that would be a sentence I’d state, let alone have it be true.

I’ve been back in the US for seven months and while much of my life has returned to “normal”, there are still moments when I realize how profoundly I’ve changed. Sure, I watch less TV, I appreciate my friends and loved ones more than I did, and I continue to be amazed at some of what I’ve seen called “first world problems” (for example, people complaining on Facebook that the line in Starbucks is moving SO SLOW!!!), but there are other things that still catch me off guard.

Last weekend I went out with my aunt and cousin, and at the end of the night there was a mix-up about where I was meeting my cousin before we walked home. He went out a back entrance while I thought he’d be out front, and it took about ten minutes for us to find each other. (This is a really small town so that is extra ridiculous.)

When I finally saw him come to the front door, I ran outside and asked where he’d been. He explained he was out back and figured by that point I’d already headed back to my aunt’s. He even said he was about to leave himself if he didn’t see me just then.

Okay, not a big deal… except it never occurred to me to go outside and look for him. I peered through the glass in the front door and checked through the windows, but I stayed inside. Where it’s safe. Where people with guns and god-knows what else aren’t lurking.

Again, this is a small town. Ridiculous. But I realized that night that I still don’t go outside by myself after dark. For three years I never once set foot beyond my condo by myself after dark and apparently that habit is more deeply ingrained than I realized. I was even a little freaked out driving to work earlier this week before the sun rose. Now I know why.

In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a horrible thing, but I can’t help but wonder how long these effects will linger.

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama.
SCBWI member since 2015.

14 Comments

  1. ab

    I can only add again that I’m glad you’re out of there! It’s probably not a bad thing to be a little cautious… but hopefully the fear will leave. 3 years is a long time to set a habit in. Baby steps, babe. Maybe short winter days will help break it. 🙂

  2. Ugh! I agree with Bug. So glad you are back in the States. When people complain about wanting less taxes and less ‘government’ I just point to Mexico and tell them they can get less in Mexico, and don’t let the barbed wire hit them in the butt on the way out.

    I did have a bit of a ‘pooky moment earlier this week. I had ‘Back to School Night’ and had to park my car out behind the playground. There is a little path that leads through the trees (And you know how forested things are in this area), over a bridge and down into the neighborhood behind the school. (Where I was parked.) I didn’t realize when I arrived that it would be pitch black by the time ‘Back to School Night’ was over. I was basically blind, walking through the trees and feeling my way across the bridge. There were no street lights in the neighborhood behind the school yard either! Now I know to pack a flash light in my purse!!

  3. A healthy dose of caution is always good, now we just need to scale yours down a notch and learn to trust again. Welcome home, sugar-

    BTW, this is the best post title I’ve ever seen. 😉

    • Avery, I hope it doesn’t come off that I don’t get irritated like everyone else. I just mean to say that I choose carefully what I complain about online. (which some of you may think is a little ridiculous.)

      And the irony didn’t escape me that my first facebook post this morning was about the music in my workout video. 😛

  4. Wow, yes. That is an adjustment! The pics of machine guns you used to post totally freaked me out. It’s odd how one changes, and how those changes become your “normal.” And then one day, you realize how very not normal they are.

  5. Nadine

    Since you had three years of experiencing that, I think it’s going to take a while for that feeling to go away. Crazy how things still affect us long after the situation has passed. And now that you mention it, I haven’t been outside by myself at night in a really long time either, but that’s mainly cause we don’t really go out at night.

  6. kevin

    I guess i can sum it up best this way, do you still look for the pole under the desk when you skoot your chair in? LOL! Kinda makes the whole ‘life is a journey’ thing sink in huh? Yeah, I was struck last night while discussing ‘life stories’ how all our ‘life stories’ seem like just stuff you got through, but to other they seem ‘outside of the norm’.

    I concur on the title! Nice work. Also, may I add, that these posts of yours are among the most refreshing perspective i am privilaged to be apart of on a weekly basis. Surrounded by the absurdities that is LaLa Land, it’s nice to have the string of reality to ‘check-in’ on…

    Keep on truckin’!

    • Ha! Now I have something new under my desk that I’ve cranked my foot into, but instead of going to the floor, I only hit it when I cross my legs.

      Good point about our life stories…

      I’m glad I can be refreshing for you. 🙂 I can’t even imagine what you deal with out there.

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