February 23rd, 2010
The first time I realized that I might have a tinge of claustrophobia was the summer before my senior year in high school when I went to Israel on a program called the Israel Summer Institute. This particular program focused on the great outdoors so we camped in the desert, kayaked in the Red Sea, rappelled down mountains and partook in many other activities that upper middle class Jewish teenagers do to build character. And feel edgy.
It was when we went caving (also known as spelunking to seasoned cavers and perverts) that I had my first encounter with the claustrophobic symptoms of restriction, panic and suffocation. I recall the exact scenario that was the catalyst for this episode. As I was in hardcore female MacGyver mode and exploring this natural underground environment, three Israeli soldiers passed me with a sense of urgency, guns and rancid body odor. I wasn’t fazed that there could have been danger ahead; it was their foul odor that accelerated my anxious need to exit immediately. This beautiful gift of nature had now turned into an underground prison. High security. I turned around and speed caved through the narrow not man made corridors in order to find fresh Israeli air, light and peace. For dramatic effect, my over dramatized memory of this catastrophe was synonymous to Jamie Lee Curtis running in terror from Michael Myers in “Halloween.” Not the sub par sequels. It was like they just stopped trying. I digress. Finally, like a gift from God, the Israeli Prime Minister and Air Supply, I saw the light and felt as if I had completed my journey through the birth canal.
I had been given birth to. Then ate a falafel.