Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The UFO "thing"

I've gotten more comments, both in the comments section and by e-mail, on my UFO paragraph in my Ten Things About Me post last week. So I figured it warranted a post all on its own. There's just so much weirdness there.

My terror started when I was a child. We lived just outside of Albany, NY and there were acres and acres of empty fields behind our house. I'd heard somewhere that UFOs like to land in big empty spaces, like the fields behind our house. So I became convinced they were landing in the back field. One night my window shade flipped up all on its own, and I was sure I saw aliens in the form of Sesame Street characters out there. My parents couldn't figure out why Big Bird and Bert and Ernie outside my window would be so scary, but I knew they didn't belong outside my second-floor bedroom window.

I was just as terrified at my grandparents' house. My bedroom there faced the horse pasture and polo field, two more prime landing spots. I was sure the UFOs were touching down among the horse. But I could at least sleep in peace there; my bedroom windows had blackout shades AND curtains, so there was no chance that I'd accidentally see a UFO outside.

Things got worse when we moved to Massachusetts. We lived near an Air Force base, and sometimes the pilots would practice touch and go landings at night. My closet had a window in it, which I could see out of from my bed. I'd see the planes coming and going at night through the closet window and go screaming downstairs. To this day, I can't sleep if the closet door is open. Fortunately, in our current house, you have to go through the bathroom to get to the closet, so I'm spared middle of the night freakouts.

As I mentioned in the 10 things post, I used to seal my eyes shut when we drove between my grandparents' home in Albany and our house in Massachusetts because I was convinced UFOs were out there and I didn't want to see them. One boyfriend, and this is just one of the reasons he quickly became an ex-boyfriend, had me on the floor in fetal position crying hysterically one night because he kept trying to convince me that the reason I was so afraid of UFOs was because I'd already been abducted and the memory wiping didn't work completely. He informed me that the Berkshires, through which you drive between Albany and Westfield, are prime UFO sighting territory and that's probably where I'd been taken from.

I started watching the X-Files purely as aversion therapy, facing my greatest fear. It sort of worked - I wasn't afraid of the UFOs on TV, but I was still terrified of the UFOs that might be out there.

There's a town in Texas called Marfa that's famous for weird lights in the desert outside of town. No one knows for sure what the light are - some say they're from car headlights on a nearby highway. Others, and these are the ones I believe, say they're UFOs. As a result, I won't go to Marfa. Not ever. I almost didn't go to Mexico to visit B when he lived there because it meant flying over West Texas. And apparently Austin is on the eastern edge of the UFO siting hot spot of the country. Eek.

For me, Close Encounters was a horror movie, not an uplifting tale of homecoming and interplanetary cooperation. My parents took us to see it at the drive-in, and I was terrified. I buried my head in my blanket and pillow as soon as the first orange lights appeared. To this day, I have not seen the whole movie.

So now my friends, especially Lisa R., tease me about UFOs. They hum the theme music from Close Encounters and warn me that there are alien dentists out there waiting to put a probe in my nose.

I know it's completely illogical. I KNOW that there really aren't little green men flying around abducting people. My fear has reduced a little since childhood - I don't close my eyes in the car at night - but it's still there. I'm still terrified, illogically so.


Suburban Correspondent said...

Your poor parents - they must have been tearing their hair out.

I remember as a kid not being able to sleep unless my back was towards the wall, because I was convinced I would get shot in the back otherwise. It's not as if we lived anywhere dangerous, either. Luckily, I've been able to put that behind me...(ooh, pun not intended).

hokgardner said...

I'm not sure my parents would remember my phobia quite so clearly. After my last post, my dad called to say he didn't remember my closing my eyes on our trips to and from Massachusetts. They'll probably read this and chalk it up to my being a pod child with false recovered memories.

Family Adventure said...

Wow...I can sense your fear through the post! You're not kidding!
Does this mean that you don't like to be out in the dark, or are you only worried when you are in 'UFO sighting hot spots'? How do you determine which of these 'sightings' are more or less reliable? I mean, people say crazy things all the time...

I have a fear of earthquakes, and cannot go to California. Which is so sad, because I am dying to go. A couple of times we've had to transit through CA, on our way further west, and I'm a basket case. I try to control it, but it is hard.

The same thing as you - I know it doesn't make much sense, but I can't help it.

Interesting post!

- Heidi