by Kelene Blake
I had my daughter to think about, and now I had no one else to help me take care of her. I knew I couldn’t do it alone, because I was always worried that I would accidently hurt her or even kill her. She was so fragile. It occurred to me how sad it was that, at twenty-four, I could not even take care of myself, much less my daughter. For the most part I was a shut-in, afraid to step outside my door, afraid something horrible would happen to me, afraid I would have a panic attack in public and make a fool of myself, or even worse, I would catch a glimpse of normal life and die inside because I can’t have one. I always needed Mama there with me when I went out, especially grocery shopping. Someone else had to be there in case I had a panic attack and, abandoning my shopping cart mid-aisle, ran to the car to hide (which has happened several times). What if Mariana was in the cart? Would I be so scared that I’d run off and leave her with the groceries? Would I grab her up and frighten her with my panic?
My thoughts raced and my breathing picked up. I was about to work myself up into another panic attack when a name popped into my mind almost as vividly as someone in the room saying it: Kara. I had lost her around the time I lost control and started getting panic attacks. Believe it or not I used to be a regular, calm, functioning young woman. And it seems Kara was always there, when I had a normal life. Growing up I never lost sight of her. She was like the solid ground, the constant in my life. With Kara in sight I always felt safe, even safer than with Mama. But when I was about seventeen I messed up. I had just started college in a different state, and I left her behind. I got caught up in new people and activities and, I guess I ignored her. I lost touch with Kara, and I had my first panic attack in my freshman year. I always assumed that my anxiety started up because of the stress of college (and maybe my LSD experimentation may have triggered it), but now I’m starting to think that my earth started to shake because I had let go of my solid ground. Maybe if I find Kara things will go back to how they were, or at least I will have someone I can depend on in my life again – someone to help with Mariana.
With the desperate beginnings of a plan in my mind, I forgot to panic and became eager about the search I was about to begin. I would find Kara, convince her to stay with me, and she can help me take care of my daughter. Maybe I was a little delirious but the whole plan seemed deceptively simple at the time. It elevated my mood until the taxi pulled up and I stood before my front door. When I turned that handle and stepped out of my door, this was the first time I’d be doing so on my own in two years. Now I was stepping out and I was not even sure where the day would lead me.
Where would it lead me? Where should I even start my search? I remembered Kara used to go to a particular Creole restaurant. It was her favorite. I looked at my watch; it was 11:14 a.m. Well I may as well start off with some warm food. I turned the handle, opened the door and stepped out.