The houses I used to stay in and house sit were generally vast, large, and thus quiet. As the sole living being in these houses, or at least the sole human being in cases where I was caring for various dogs or cats, I would relish in that solitude. But solitude is a funny thing.
I’m not going to say that part of the fear I feel of large, empty homes I’m inside is irrational, and part of the fear is actually self-inflicted. But I have been able to gauge when I can “self-inflict” with the least amount of trauma.
When I was in high school, I house sat for a co-worker of my mother. They lived in an upper-class part of Reno. I was excited to stay at their home because it was very pretty. The back yard was amazingly landscaped with a running waterfall and miniaturized creek bisecting it. There was a well-made gazebo and while there were homes all around, the yard was big enough to give you the sensation of seclusion; situated within the housing development, the yard still had amazing views of nearby mountains. At night, because the housing development was far from the tall buildings and hotels of downtown Reno, you could see a full blanket of stars.
So, this house had a lot of doors and windows. One night, I decided that I wanted to call my mom before heading off to bed. But before I could dial, I heard it. I did not hear the expected dial tone, but what sounded more akin to the sound of a person breathing. I hung up fast. That urban legend about the babysitter flashing through my mind. I picked up the phone again and made the call to my mom, frantic. She listened calmly, and had me call my cousin. He specialized in security alarms and told me to check the doors and windows. “Are there any open”?
Yes, there was a door that was slightly ajar, but I really couldn’t remember if I had opened it or not. My cousin came over to check it out. Walking though the house, he didn’t find anything significant and soon left. I had worked myself up for nothing. I sat down to watch some TV; a comedy if I recall correctly.
From this experience, I have found that I do tend to enjoy stories (written or visual) that elicit this intense feeling of adrenalin coursing through my veins. When I watch certain horror movies, for instance, I need to follow it up with a good comedy, especially at night, when who knows what is out there.
I mentioned that I am able to gauge in what context I can partake of these traumas (I hope you see that these traumas are really just scare tactics). As an example, I present the process I undertook in watching the movie “Silent Hill.”
I was house sitting for my aunt and uncle at the time. They were leaving quite early in the day, and so I woke up early to see them off (I had spent the night). I think they left about 4:30 or 5:00 am. The sun hadn’t even risen yet. It was dark outside, but it was the kind of dark that suggested that the sun would soon be there. I watched the movie at about 5:30 in the morning, the sun still hiding behind the Sandias. I finished watching the movie when the sun was low still, so the shadows cast were still a tad menacing and frightening.
When I was 14, my family moved into our house in Sparks. I had spent the summer before watching zombie movies with a neighbor girl of my cousin. The house was situated at the top of the street which ended in a cul-de-sac. My room was at the front of the house and looked out and down the long street that lead to the house. That first night, I had a dream. It was your typical zombie dream; hoards of freshly dead, blood-thirsty, brain-hungry zombies making their way up our street and eagerly trying to get in via my bedroom window. Lovely, right?
So now Jason and I are living in our own big, vast, and quiet house. And what do I do with my time? I watch AMC’s The Walking Dead. And this show isn’t my first to cover the idea of a post-Apocalypse world, overrun by zombies. I’ve seen Night of the Living Dead (the old ones, the sequels, and the remakes) and Resident Evil. It’s how I get me kicks, you know? Did I mention that I was a film minor in college? I even took a horror film class!
I don’t necessarily watch TWD to scare myself, while that does happen on occasion (see afore-mentioned appreciation of cinematic suspense), but I watch for the human story–the humanity (and lack there of) behind the needs for survival. This is most profound within the story lines of TWD.
But all this horror indulgence has a price. After watching a season and a half, I’ve convinced Jason that we need bars on our windows. Technically, I’m a little apprehensive of how close the house is to the sidewalk and the ease of access our house has (to me). But in the back of my mind, it’s a step closer to preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. Irrational? Perhaps. But who knows what the results and effects of biological weaponry will be.
**Question: What is your irrational fear? And how are you facing it?**