By: Rock Kitaro
Date: May 27th, 2013
Mariah Carey – “Always Be My Baby” -
The following is a narrative fictional piece based on factual events.
I’d never been there before. To Philippe Park. I was invited by a colleague to attend his church’s barbecue in celebration of Memorial Day. I admit that I was reluctant at first. Not due to the religion or the fact that it was going to be held at noon when I’m usually a night owl…but because of my agoraphobia. While I accept that I do have a slight case of agoraphobia, I told myself that I wouldn’t let it hold me back from such experiences. So I went.
It was a beautiful day around noon that day. The sun was up but the heat was still manageable. There was a cool breeze rustling through my white cotton button up shirt. The sky could’ve been better. The clouds seemed smeared not painted, but the distinction between the blue sky and the white clouds were distinct, so I enjoyed it nonetheless.
The National park lay on the banks of the western waters of Safety Harbor, a northern extension of Tampa Bay. While the saltwater and the rare sightings of manatees were certainly a worthy attraction of the park…in my opinion the highlight and most noticeable feature of the park are its majestic Spanish moss trees. I’m a history buff, you see…Pulling up to the parking lot and taking a look around, I could tell from the winding serpent branches that stretched out in all directions that they’ve been around for generations. It’s weird…I love historical landmarks when it comes to nature, but feel quite the opposite when it comes to manmade landmarks…like when it comes to buildings, I prefer newer constructions over the older.
Greeting my colleague and his wife at the barbecue made me laugh on the inside. When I walked up to them, already in the line for grilled burgers and hot dogs, they seemed surprised. I told them that I would be coming, but I suppose they just weren’t expecting me to show up one way or the other. Still… they embraced me and introduced me to a few bystanders within proximity whose curiosity I had peaked.
Agoraphobia…I hate that it has the suffix of phobia because I’m not afraid. Just nervous and anxious. Being that I’m well over six feet tall and at one point used to be borderline obese, I still carry the paranoia that I’m always being watched. From a spectator’s point of view, my condition is similar to a formerly abused dog in a new surrounding. My voice shuttered and I struggled to release the words that I was trying to say. As I reached for the hot dogs and hamburgers, my hands and fingers rattled as if I had Parkinson’s. Not fear… It didn’t look cute and I didn’t feel special because of it. It annoyed the hell out of me, and I had to suppress the frustrations I had with myself. But the sensation didn’t last long, thank god. Once I got myself situated, seated and relatively out of the open…I could calm down. I could focus on being sociable.
Being that it was a church function, I felt obligated to inquire into the group’s religion, their beliefs and how they came to find their way to that particular organization. My colleague caught me twice staring off in deep thought. I’m still working on handling my facial expressions because I have large eyes and it’s easy to read my mood. I didn’t mean to be rude or draw in curiosity from my perplexed look, but rather, I find it’s important to digest such information on the spot so I can ask more questions while I still have the people there in front of me.
In the end, the group won me over and I had made up my mind to check out their next service. Not sure what to expect really. But I am a religious person. And more so, I’m a philosopher. What philosopher would turn down an open invitation to learn a new system of thinking, a new theology…I can’t wait.
After sitting with my hosts for a little over half an hour, the inner child in me compelled me to get up and walk around. Such a beautiful place…People get on airplanes and travel all over the world in search for adventure. The amazing thing about Florida is that there are so many untapped places for me to explore. So explore I did.