Peeing In The Sink
Many years ago, I moved into a dormitory for female artists. I was so afraid to leave my room, I peed in the sink. Living with social anxiety is like living in a monster movie. I remember that moment like it happened five minutes ago. I cracked opened my door and observed a confident group of young women strolling past my room. They could have been vampires.
They didn’t see me so I backed up and quietly shut my door. I had waited so long to open that door in the first place, waiting for an empty hallway, I could have peed on the floor by exhaling.
It was my grandmother’s idea for me to live in that dorm. It was located in the Gold Coast, an affluent neighborhood in Chicago. My grandmother would have loved to live there as a young woman. She had grown up excessively wealthy until her father lost everything in the depression. Then she married my grandfather, who had made his own wealth. I’m trying to remember her hands. I never saw her clean anything with them. She used them to turn pages, swim, hold wine.
My grandmother lived vicariously. In retrospect, I think she suffered from social anxiety too. Social anxiety wasn’t diagnosed back then. Hysteria, depression, lunacy, but not social anxiety. People with social anxiety drank and concealed it. At least where I came from.
Grandma spent a lot of time in her reading chair, directing us and asking us to refill her wine. She devoured travel books and she spoke about the author's adventures as if they were her own. She read The New York Times cover to cover and finished the crossword easily. When she did leave her glorious lake view highrise, she always ate at the same restaurants. She didn’t venture out.
Neiman Marcus sales girls came to her condo with makeup and luxurious caftans for her to try on. The farthest she usually traveled was to the 40th floor of her building, where the pool was. When she found a hairdresser who made home visits, going out became unnecessary.
My grandfather, in the meantime, traveled excessively. His girlfriend, who spanned their marriage, was apparently at my grandmother’s funeral. I didn’t…