I found it interesting to learn from this book that when, in the 1870s, agoraphobia was first diagnosed, it was considered a reasonable reaction to the then-new cities. Open plazas, cleared spaces, broad streets filled with fast vehicles — these things were clearly not good for people, and led to this new problem of agoraphobia. Writers pointed this out as a condemnation of the new-fangled ways. In the 1930s, when cars and therefore roads, cleared fields, and such had become commonplace, agoraphobia was redefined as a disorder. By then, it was no longer felt that the problem was in poor design of living spaces. People were supposed to get used to it.

At this point in my quest to overcome agoraphobia, I have made it all the way up my aversions list. I answer the phone, I make appointments with hardly a second thought, I shop when necessary, I drive at night. I have been on freeways several times, driven to unfamiliar places, and gone on Scary Roads. Today is my Overcoming Agoraphobia final exam.

Today I am driving a very long distance. I know there to be some scary roads involved and — since I have not driven this route in some years — it may also be that there have been scary roads built there while I wasn’t looking. I am mentally prepared, however. I have all my tools ready, I have practiced the appropriate responses to any unreasonable panics, and I have worked on approaching the whole thing with a sense of adventure and exhileration. It is always possible that I will get stuck in Joplin and be unable to reach my destination, but if so, I intend to take a position as a waitress at a truck stop, and stay there. If you never hear from me again, that will be the reason.

Actually, I think that #2 son is coming with me. Having had the opportunity to admire his determined cheerfulness last night when the toilet overflowed (he cleaned it up, singing all the while), I am reinforced in my belief that he will be a helpful person to have along. If the wheels should fall off the car, or if I should prove unable to drive over the overpasses, he will be cheerful and enthusiastic about it. When he was little, he used to say, “Be cool, be calm, and SNAP into action!” It is a good motto.

One of the peculiar things about agoraphobes is that they can often do things they otherwise find impossible if what the medical community calls a “safe person” is with them. They sometimes explain that having this person with them makes a difference because that person could help. Often, though, the safe person is an infant, or for some other reason not really likely to be of any help. So I recognise that my reaction is part of the agoraphoia. I am still really glad that he is coming with me.

I am taking my knitting, too, although I have no expectation of having much knitting time. Have you answered Voodoo920’s knitting survey? Come on, it’s for a class.

The point of all this driving is to attend #2 daughter’s junior recital, an event to which I am looking forward eagerly. I understand that barbecue and the American Ballet Theater will also figure in the evening. Clearly, this is worth some driving.

If I post tomorrow or Sunday, you will know that I made it and am an Overcoming Agoraphobia graduate. If not, then look for me in truck stops as you pass through Joplin. I will be the waitress who insists on telling you things about physics even though you only want a burger.

Do truck stops actually have waitresses?