SleepyJane mentioned in her comment that she too would race back to her bed after going to the restroom in the middle of the night.
Let me reassure her, and the rest of you to boot, that she is not alone in doing this. I spent most of my childhood afraid of the dark, no matter which house we lived in.
Ken Burns’s documentary on the Civil War came out when I was in the fifth grade. My father, being a huge PBS fan, had the whole family watching it. Well, I know I did, mainly because if my parents weren’t watching tv, the tv wasn’t on. This is why my knowledge of 80s tv shows is so woefully scant. (Thundercats??? Never seen it. I never even heard of it till I was in college.)
Even though we lived in northern Illinois at the time, having just moved there that summer from northern Virginia, I was so moved by the images of the Civil War dead featured in the documentary that I somehow convinced myself that my house was built on a Confederate graveyard. And somehow these dead Confederates knew I was born in the South and should therefore be sympathetic to their cause. At this house, we kept the big garbage bin just outside our back door, which meant that when I took the garbage out, I had to drag the large bin through our sideyard, open the gate, get the bin through the gate, shut the gate, and finish dragging the bin across the front yard to the curb. I kept imagining the dead Confederates’ bony hands reaching through the sod covering their shallow graves and clutching at my ankles as I ran through the grass.
Needless to say I hated taking the trash out, especially because I had to traverse the darkest part of our yard with the big trash bin. I’d race back inside after thumping the bin down on the curb, and by the time I got back to the safety of the lights and my family, my heart was pounding.
Even in high school, I was scared of the dark. We’d moved back to our house in northern Virginia by then so my dad could take a job at the Pentagon, which is where he still lives. (In a way, I’m a bit envious of my baby brother, who has lived in the same house for the last fifteen years. He’s gone to schools in the same district for his entire public-school education, where I attended six schools, only two of which in the same district, let alone the same state, in thirteen years.) My father’s house has this thin window-door thing next to his front door that can be cranked open to let in more air. It also lets people look into his front entry-way.
My dad also lives on the end of a cul-de-sac, which means as people come down his street, it almost looks like they’re going to run straight into his house before they swerve at the last moment to follow the curve of the cul-de-sac. Maybe that’s what freaked me out so much. Going past that window late at night (I have always been a night owl), especially in the rain when people come barreling down the road with their high-beams on, has always given me the sense that these are bad guys after me, and that they’re going to shoot me to death!! Being in the basement never gave me the willies; it was just trying to get upstairs to my bedroom that caused the problem!
And even when I was 18, I would still take a flying leap into my bed to prevent the monster that lives underneath it from grabbing at my ankles. I still don’t like to have any body part of mine hanging over the edge of my mattress. Usually that only affects my hands, since I am a midget, as Kurt loves to remind me. He always ends up with his feet hanging off the edge if he’s not in the fetal position, thereby popping off the flat sheet every night. That’s what he gets for being 6’3″!!
Basically what I am trying to say is that Grace comes by it honestly.
One more thing before I leave you. Today Grace decided to inform me of her likes and dislikes. She had just brought me her monkey nightgown so I could help her put it on, and then she made the following statement:
“I love monkeys! I love monkeys and birds and butterflies. But not bunnies or squares [she can’t say squirrels]. See? [points to bunny in front yard] I don’t like bunnies. I only like monkeys and birds and butterflies!!”
Well, alrighty then!