Stepping out into thin air

I was about to step out into thin air, and not in any kind of metaphorical sense. I was on a wooden platform 30 feet above the ground with no railing, and I was not happy. My life seemed to flash in front of my eyes…

It all started innocently enough, I reflected. Last January, my husband took me off to spend a weekend at “an undisclosed location.” We were hiding out from all our obligations, and our kids. I had mounted vigorous objections to the idea of a weekend away.

“We can do nothing at home for…nothing!” I’d declared.

But, I lost and ended up happier for it. So this time, I suggested another “undisclosed location” weekend and my husband readily agreed.

“Luv!” he suggested enthusiastically. “Let’s go to West Virginia, and do a zip-line canopy tour! Do you know that you can get up to 60 miles an hours, 200 feet above the tree-line?!”

As you may imagine, I didn’t quite share his enthusiam.

“Umm…” I stammered “Couldn’t we just play Angry Birds all weekend…or how about Words with Friends?” I continued “Just how much does the West Virginia thing cost?…I guess I could bring a book, and let you go…”

Then I came up with a brilliant plan to cut our vacation a little short “Hun, we need to be back Monday to go to the town meeting and I agreed to be on a conference call Thursday morning so we can’t leave till Thursday afternoon.”

“Ok, I guess we’ll just have to drive late into the night both ways” he replied, the rat.

After some frantic and serious thought, I did some Internet research on my own.

“Look, there’s a place in the Berkshires that has an introductory Zipline for $30 dollars.” I suggested demurely, “We won’t have to drive so far or late and I really want to see the old growth hemlocks in the Mohawk State Forest.”

So here I’ve end up, debating whether to step out into thin air, and travel 300 feet hanging helplessly from a thin cable…or…face the prospect of having wasted $30 dollars. The thing is, I really don’t like heights. But the only thing I hate worse than heights is wasting money.

I thought hard. Just minutes earlier our guides had cheerfully put us into a lot of complicated gear, and assured us that we were perfectly safe. Straps went around our waists, and our legs. We wore helmets, with metal carabineers clinking at our sides. Then before they even let us walk up the stairs onto the platform, our guides had to recite an ominous list of safety rules.

“We fasten you to the line. Don’t try to help us. Don’t try to turn upside down; the straps might not hold you in. Don’t grab the cable because it’ll rip your hands to shreds.”

“Am I really going to do this?” I screamed silently. “Will he ever stop talking so I can get this over with?”

Now was the moment of truth. I looked straight down, and gulped.

“I’m not going to do this.” I declared firmly.

“You go first.” My husband suggested.

I breathed, closed my eyes and thought…”Maybe, if I just look up…” and then I was in the air, zipping along.

One long half hour and four ziplines later, it was over. Safely on the ground, I was ecstatic.

“You’re actually smiling.” My husband commented happily.

I swaggered. I was nonchalant. I shrugged. I strutted. “It was fine. Why would you even ask?”

“Look at the video.” He replied.

I watched it for a second before grasping the implications.

“You mean..” I sputtered. “that…that…on that platform, while my life was passing before my eyes…you…were standing there filming it?!”

“Video never lies…” He replied cheerfully “unlike certain writers.”

So there I was, forever caught on film, looking slightly pale, and seriously ridiculous in my helmet and carabineers. Our guide was calm, carefully explaining the do’s and don’ts. I wore a classic deer-in-the-headlights expression. My eyes darted desperately in every direction, up the mountain, down at the ground, blankly at our guide, then down at the ground.

“Wow! Look at your hand!” my husband declared. “I didn’t see that before. You have an absolute death grip on that u-bolt!”

“You’re not a very nice man.” I replied stiffly.

He laughed and gave me a hug and grabbing my hand sawing “C’mon luv, let’s get a victory lunch.”

“Well…” I conceded “you do know the way to a girl’s heart.”

“Really. It was fine.” I insisted as I got in the car. “I’d even do it again. Honest.”

Finding the courage to step out into thin air is a really good thing. Only next time, I hope I really will mean it in a strictly metaphorical sense.

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