Earlier this week, I told the story of how I developed a power line phobia.
Today, I’m sharing the story of how I killed it.
I’d be going a little bit overboard if I told you that my life changed after the power line fell. It didn’t, really.
But my dreams sure changed.
Night after night, for days and weeks on end, I had the same nightmare. The scene and the characters usually differed, but the story was always the same: I heard a buzz, I knew a power line was going to fall, and I had to get myself (or friends, or family) the hell out of the way.
And you know how dream-physics works, right? Whenever you try to run, you run in slow motion.
That said, escaping the wrath of the falling power line every night was both difficult and exhausting. In each nightmare, I’d have to concentrate my absolute hardest on pushing my little feet hard enough into the soft and unreliable dream-ground to kick my running into motion.
Sometimes, I would escape. Sometimes, I wouldn’t. At age 8, these freakishly realistic dreams of electrocution were troubling. Troubling enough to leave me thinking about power lines for much of the day.
Troubling enough to make me jump whenever I heard the bzzzz of the oven timer in my parents’ kitchen.
Troubling enough to make me avoid walking beneath power lines when playing outside on the sidewalk. I would hold my breath and run underneath them if I had to cross a set in order to run up to a friend’s front door, but I wouldn’t walk beneath their path.
The dreams continued, although not every night, throughout middle school. I lived at the very edge of my town — far enough to make for a mile-long walk to school, yet not quite far enough to be eligible for school bus services — and, in order to get to school, I had no choice but to walk under power lines.
This is where I started educating myself.
I went to the library to do some research on electricity. (Yes, this was just a year before my family had dial-up internet on our Windows 3.1 computer.) After reading a few books, I learned that not all power lines carry a high amount of electricity. Some of the wires are for electricity, some are for telephone, and some are for cable. I learned how to distinguish between the various types of lines and I started walking to school on the telephone/cable side of the street.
Yes, this is a method of avoidance, technically. I didn’t know it at the time, of course. I was only twelve years old, and I felt rather accomplished at that young age for being able to wade through complex grown-up-oriented books about electricity.
In fact, the knowledge gave me a little bit of a natural high.
I’ve always loved learning and asking questions, and I found myself returning to the library periodically to search for answers to more electrically-related questions: why do the power lines that carry electricity always run in sets of three? Do all electrical substations hum at the same pitch? Can you figure out the voltage of a particular power line just by looking at it?
The more I learned, the more often I’d deviate from the “safe” side of the street to the “electrical” side.
And the more I researched, the more my fear transformed into fascination.
(Stay tuned later this week for Part 2.)