When I was, oh, probably five years old, I lived in Japan. My family and I took a trip to Tokyo Disneyland, but I don't remember it at all. I only remember what happened afterwards.
In Japan, you get around mostly on public transportation. That day, naturally, we took trains. These trains are more underground metro trains, not Harry Potter-style trains. There were a few different train connections we had to make, but my memory begins not at the beginning of this trip, but somewhere near the middle. This memory is very vivid, but I only have flashes of the most memorable parts. The rest of the story has been filled in by my family.
Picture me. I'm short, chubby, have big coke-bottle glasses and look like a miniature member of the Geek Squad. In a cute way, my mama would say.
I pretty much skipped everywhere. Skip to the kitchen, skip to the grocery store, skip, skip, skippety-skip.
On this particular day, I was extra skippy because we went to Disneyland! But now it was time to go home, and I was a little bit sleepy. On one of the trains, I got my own seat right next to Daddy, so I was happy. I wiggled and kicked my feet that couldn't yet touch the floor. The train, though, started to fill up.
We sort of had an unspoken buddy system at that point. In Japan, people don't really know what it means to respect personal space, so it was important that Will and I both had someone to hold our hand. Mom had Will then, and Dad had me.
Finally, the train slowed as we made it to our stop. I hopped up and Daddy took my hand, and we began to push through the people. The people, however, pushed back. Somehow, my hand slipped from Dad's, and this part of the story eludes me a bit. He must have thought I was off the train and with mom, so he didn't turn back to get me.
The doors slammed in front of my face. I proceeded to slam the doors that were in front of my face with my chubby little fists. My heart raced, tears welled in my eyes, and I couldn't really think about anything but the fact that my parents were going to leave and I would never see them again.
Now, my dad is very good at making friends. Wherever he goes, he learns peoples' life stories and knows their names shortly after meeting them. On this particular train, he had met an Australian couple and was making conversation with them, so my family was standing just outside of the train in which I was so mercilessly trapped.
My brother Will, bless him, noticed that I was stuck on the tube of doom. He pulled my dad's sleeve.
"Will, you don't need to interrupt."
"Will. Please don't interrupt!"
"BUT DAD. CAROLINE IS ON THE TWAIN."
I remember vividly seeing my dad whip around to face the door. He told me later that he was trying to think of some way to get inside, to climb on the roof, to do something, anything.
At this point I was screaming and crying and panicking. Quite lethargically, a skinny Japanese conductor, who must have heard my cries for help, pressed an immense red button that loomed above my head. And the doors opened.
I stumbled out of the train, was coddled by my family, and my Dad held me for the rest of the way home. I cried all the way.
P.S. It was the last stop of the train. I would have been fine in any case. None of US knew that, though.
This story showed up in my mind today because the streets of Rome were packed, and we almost didn't all make it onto the subway on the way to church. I think I still have some... issues from this incident. I always walk in front of my family. Thinking about it, it's most likely because I fear being left behind. If I were behind them and got swallowed by a crowd, no one would know. Or at least, that's my rationale. And I get these little bits of panic when I can't see my family. I don't know how many times my mom has had to say to me, "Caroline, we're not leaving you."
This post is already too long, so I won't expand on my Demophobia (fear of crowds). I just, honestly, needed something to blog about. :)
Have you had any harrowing experiences?