This is a follow-up post from a couple of days ago. My plan was to face my fear of high places by heading to the Super Bowl Village in downtown Indy andÂ experiencingÂ the zipline: eight stories above ground level, you harness up and fly into the ether, tethered to a thin steel wire.Â
Event day, pretty calm. Standing in line for an hour and a half, calm. Signing the waiver, calm. Getting the helmet and harness on. Calm. Eight-story steel stairway? Calm makes hasty exit. Eyes riveted to those horrid, hole-punched steel treads, my fingersÂ unconsciouslyÂ curled a death grip around the handrail. With each step, my body grew heavier, slower. I started chanting to God. People passed me. KIDS passed me. Halfway up, Wug put his hand on my back, and said, “are you gonna make it, honey?”
Flash back to a 1960’s family vacation at Mammoth Cave National Park. My family had reached the end of the cave tour, and it was time to exit via a metal staircase strategically located over what was touted as a “bottomless pit.” At six years old, I believed them. As an evil bonus, the steel stair treads hadÂ holes in them, and the railings were covered in condensation. My mom was carrying my little sister in one arm and holding my big sister’s hand. With no immediate hand to hold, I slipped.
Back to 2012. Fear had wound it’s tendrils from an unexpected place, and unwittingly revealed it’s roots. Thankfully, it didn’t stop me. Gratefully, the platform was ahead, and a kind young woman expertly hooked me to the cable and led me to the edge.
Airborne, weightless, all fear gone, the rush of wind propelled me through the sunshine, over the people below. The line spun me, and I kicked myself around, like a kid on a swing, screaming and whooping for the sheer joy of it. In 30 seconds, it was over. The guys at the end of the line hauled me to the platform and unshackled me. They asked, did I like it?
Seconds later, Wug joined me. Divested of our safety gear, we enjoyed the rest of our day hand in hand. Over burgers and beer, he heard the childhood Mammoth Cave story. No wonder, he said. At the conclusion of our perfect day, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset from the 11th floor of the parking garage where our car was parked.
Later that evening, a phone call to my parents brought us all back to that moment in Mammoth Cave National Park. They remembered that day pretty much the same way, and they were scared, too. When I told my dad about my stairwell trip that afternoon, and the zipline, he chuckled and said, “To each his own.”