1. When my mom fainted in Home Depot.
    I was about 10. We were on our way to a picnic/field trip (#homeschoolingperks) & stopped at Home Depot to make some returns. Mom left my sisters & me in the returns line & went to go get lightbulbs. 15 minutes later an employee came up, asked us if we were her daughters, & then escorted us over to the lightbulb aisle where she was lying on the floor surrounded by paramedics. I 100% believed I was about to become an orphan (even though my dad was still alive?) & cried. She had pneumonia & lived.
  2. When a woman died at the top of Vernal Falls in Yosemite while we were hiking up to it.
    It was summer & it was hot as hell. The trail suddenly got backed up & there were whispers of something awful happening at the top of the falls. My mom hiked up to see what was happening & saw the divers bringing out her body. A helicopter came for the family. My mom came back & said we had to go. She wouldn't let us look, but I snuck a peek & saw the body bag hanging from the helicopter. This experience was terrifying, surreal, & I always forget it happened until I don't.
  3. When I thought I saw a ghost at my ancient great aunt's ancient house in Maine.
    Everyone else was in the basement playing ping pong. I was walking down the second-floor hallway in the dark (there were no light switches) & saw a shadowy figure walking toward me. I leapt into the nearest bedroom, fumbled about for a lamp, & when my heart rate finally slowed down sufficiently, peeked my head out the door. At the end of the hallway, there was...a full-length mirror.
  4. When I got caught in a riptide.
    A product of SoCal, I immediately began swimming parallel to shore. After several minutes of fruitless, frantic swimming, as I was being pulled inexorably toward my death on a jetty, I realized: the riptide was parallel to shore. So I just needed to swim toward the beach to get out of it. As I dragged myself onto the sand, the lifeguard met me to warn me that riptides were dangerous & I should be careful. I will hate lifeguards until the day I die.
  5. When I thought a demon was in the shower with me.
    One of my greatest (yes, irrational) fears is that a demon will come up out of the shower drain & murder me. For some reason I also like/d to shower by candlelight (our bathroom had no windows). My sister came in, chatted with me, & left as I was rinsing out shampoo. I opened my eyes and the shower door was sliding slowly open as an arm reached through. It grabbed me & I swear my heart stopped. (My sister was WAY too pleased with herself.)
  6. When my sister accidentally pressed my uncle's government-issued panic button when we were staying with him.
    In her defense it looked like a keychain flashlight. Not in her defense, she & my mom then left the flat, saw the State Dept security force rushing the building, & didn't come back to warn me. I then had to spend several minutes defending my presence to far too many very aggressive men & trying to use my broken Polish to get the doorman to vouch for me (they finally got ahold of my uncle & all was well). Did I mention I was extremely jet lagged during all of this?
  7. When I dreamt that my little sister had died.
    I was in my first year of law school in NY. She was in undergrad in CA. I dreamt I was in my home town & we'd never moved away. For some reason I was sleeping in my car in a parking lot near our house. I woke to the sound of a terrible car accident. I went back to sleep. I woke to my mom calling & telling me my sister had died in that car accident. I woke up (for real) sobbing. I knew it was a dream but also wasn't sure. I called my sister. It was 11:30PST & she thought I was crazy.