At AoCC, we pass the mic and amplify diverse voices. It is an honor to offer you the voice of Crys Wood—author, truth-teller, and visionary.
The Price of Eggs: A time of rational fear
Back when egg prices first went up, my friends and I got to talking about alternatives to expensive store-bought eggs.
I mentioned that a lady around my way has an eggs-for-sale sign in her yard, and a couple of my friends were wowed that I had such easy access.
Of course, they said, “Go knock on her door and buy some!”
I didn’t reply to that because how does one explain to people (who aren’t Black) that in my experience, being Black at the door of a stranger who isn’t Black yields mixed results.
Usually, it’s fine. Sometimes it’s not.
People have been quietly rude or pursed-lips prim or abrupt in a way that could’ve been how they’d treat anyone but, really, it wasn’t.
No, really. It wasn’t.
Also from my experience: I don’t mention those concerns, even among my friends, because people who haven’t experienced or witnessed that kind of thing don’t believe it…
They say I’m “mistaken” or “over-sensitive” or they say that “everything isn’t about race.” Or they change the subject or say nothing at all.
Anyway, I’m 98.7% sure that my neighbor is a very nice person who wouldn’t give a fig if I was purple with polka dots, because in the seven years I’ve lived in Montana, I’ve never gotten a side-eye or a flinch-back for being Black.
I can’t say that about other places I’ve lived.
Cities and suburbs and small towns from Baltimore, Maryland to a little forgotten spot outside Clemson, South Carolina, with eight years at Virginia Tech in the college town of Blacksburg, and a detour to Hersey, a small town on the ring finger of the Michigan mitten.
In those places, I experienced countless micro-aggressions and blatant racism in over 40 years of living, learning, and working.
I’m not quick to pull the race card, but still, mine is raggedy and worn thin.
And so am I.
So while my neighbor is probably kind like everyone else I’ve met here, I won’t be buying her eggs because it’s been years since I went a-knocking anywhere for anything from anyone.
Because bracing myself for disgust, disdain, or dislike makes me tired.
But, ya know what?
Never once in my wildest panic-filled, phobia-fed catastrophizing—which I excel at by the way—did I imagine that after ringing a stranger’s doorbell, they would open the door and shoot me.
And yet here we are.
It didn’t happen to me, but it happened to Ralph Yarl, a teenager who looks like me.
It didn’t happen in a crowded urban ‘hood on the coast, but in a spacious Kansas City area with big trees, tidy lawns, and an old man willing to put a bullet in any brown face that appears.
And it did happen.
I’ve been struggling with a general anxiety disorder for 15 years. A toxic workplace sparked it, and the chemical changes of perimenopause fanned the flames.
I’ve been to therapists and collected all kinds of tools and tricks for managing my anxiety, for turning away from my terrifying ideas of what might-could happen to the relative calm of what’s actually happening.
Well, those tools ain’t worth shit now.
The past four or five years have hosted happenings so much worse than anything I’ve imagined; it has all but shattered my mind.
And that those things didn’t happen to me, specifically, is irrelevant.
They could happen to me, and there’s nothing to stop them from happening to me, and that’s all my mind knows.
And I’m not wrong.
My old therapist, Dr C—the one who gave me those anxiety-busting think-it-through tools—said that my natural gift for logic would save me in stressful times, and it has indeed. Many, many times.
I can turn a cold eye on a situation and calculate my way out of the psychological disorder of irrational fear.
But between the pandemic, the Jan 6 Insurrection, and all the crazy shit in between, before, and after—George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Trayvon Martin…
With all of that horror (and more every week), the line between irrational fear and rational fear has become damned thin, y’all. And it’s getting thinner and thinner day. by. day.
I don’t leave my house but once a month to go grocery shopping in the city. I may go to the pharmacy in the nearby tiny town where most everyone knows me.
I don’t feel safe, and it’s because I’m not.
Not because I’m a Black woman living way out here in the country where no one looks like me, but because I’m a Black woman living in this country, where people shoot people who look like me.
I’m scared to walk around my own acreage. I’m scared to walk out the door.
I’m scared all the time in a way that I’ve never been before.
Before, the dangers were magnified and unlikely inventions; they were all in my head. I learned how to put those irrational fears aside and live a normal life.
Now, when the reality is worse than one’s own dark imaginings, it’s entirely rational to stay afraid.
Crys Wood writes The Midlife Letters for folks of any age who could use some practical and honest life support. You can find more of her letters at thisiscryswood.com.