Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lemon Tree... from my book Everything I Never Wanted To Be

I have been phobic as far back as I can remember. You know that cartoon where the 'coyote' is standing on top of a speeding train and the train goes in to a tunnel? Then the coyote's outline is smashed in to the concrete arch above the tunnel? As a child I would wonder, what if I am standing on a train and I don't duck fast enough to go through the tunnel? This was actually possible in my head.
I'm afraid of everything. I trace it back to the second grade.
My second grade class went on a field trip. We were all sitting on the grass in a big circle, somewhere, drinking lemonade. I took a big gulp from my straw and I swallowed two or three seeds. I thought this was very interesting and said the the little girl sitting next to me, "I just swallowed some lemon seeds." She looked at me straight faced and said, "You're going to grow a lemon tree in your belly." I looked dead in her eyes and said, "So." Then I turned around and began to completely panic. I thought, oh my god! A lemon tree in my belly! Help! Someone help me!

I spent the rest of the field trip imagining the process of the lemon tree that was now growing in my belly. How fast will this tree grow? Will the branches poke out of my skin? Could I trim the branches so I could wear regular clothes and continue going to a regular school? Would the lemons be edible? Would my parents be embarrassed by my condition, yet, pleased because my lemons are so tasty?
When I got home from the field trip I went immediately to my mother to tell her the news. I was in complete panic. I run through the screen door and go to my mother grabbing her shirt. I look up at her and say, "I swallowed some lemon seeds." She continued doing whatever she was doing.

I am now desperate, "Mom! I swallowed some lemon seeds! A girl said that I am going to grow a lemon tree in my belly!"
In my entire life there has been one time I needed my mother to be sure of something and this was the time. I needed her to be firm and confident and absolute. She looks down at me with a smile and says, "Oooh. I don't think so, honey."
I don't 'think' so? Good god in heaven, I'm might be growing a lemon tree in my belly. You don't 'think' so, but you can't be sure? I sort of need you to be sure about this. I needed something to the effect of, "That is the silliest thing I have ever heard! Of course you will not grow a lemon tree in your belly!" But, no. She didn't 'think' it would happen, which of course means, you may be growing a lemon tree in your belly.

I lay flat on my bed with my hand on my stomach waiting for some activity. Some movement. Something. The scent of lemons. Something.
Weeks went by and there were no indications of any foliage growing in my stomach. But for months, any stomach ache was clearly from the lemon tree.
The rest of the second grade I avoided the girl that informed me of the lemon tree in my belly. I felt she knew something the others didn't. Some sort of Voo Doo. Any interaction with her would only bring bad news.
By the third grade I began to believe I had food poisoning from dented cans. And off I went from there. Fear of flying. Fear of driving. Fear of all sorts of things. But it all started with the lemon tree.

My favorite drink in the world is the Lemon Lime Slush from Sonic. I drink one everyday and most days I swallow a few seeds. I feel no fear. I only enjoy the deliciousness of my beautiful drink. Until it dawns on me that one of the workers could be disgruntled and may have put poison in my slush. Or my car could suddenly ignite in to flames. Or I could be car jacked. I'm having chest pains. Great. This is just great.