Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Perpetual Self

I knew I would give in before we even entered the park.

Over the past few weeks, I have kept an admirably steady strain of weak justifications as to why I should not ride the skycoaster at Lagoon. As talented as I am at rationalizing, however, I am simply no match for the power of persuasion.

Miss Packard and Miss Edge raised the question of the skycoaster long ago, and since the moment the idea was first introduced I stewed over my options and dreamt up many honorable excuses for their benefit.
The first stated concisely that I was afraid of heights. I was privately convinced that this phobia combined with the fear of free falling would certainly result in my spontaneous and tragically early death. Prior to this point I never considered myself a weak individual. Give me a crinkly old book or sit me at a desk all day, and I will survive the boredom. Poke me with pins, draw my blood, feed me on nothing but bread and water-- I will scrape through physical pain unscathed. But dangle me from a cord one hundred and fifty feet in the air and drop me head first at 80 miles per hour and I undoubtedly will extemporaneously expire from the sheer idea of an adrenaline rush.
That is who I am; I am soft of heart, mind, might, and body. It is this that caused me to look into the pouty faces of my friends and be converted against my will. I followed them to the gallows quite willingly, tripping behind with delayed steps and a very confusing mixture of pressurized fear, bewilderment, and rapidly vanishing dignity.
It only took one look-- one glance in my direction to flip flop my willpower-- one look from two pairs of ooey gooey eyes and I was unceremoniously suited up with a purple jacket and clipped to the left of Natalie Edge and Brittany Packard several feet above the ground. And then the cable began pulling us up.

I believe I closed my eyes as we were lifted, but not before I saw the trees fall quickly away, the hoards of amusement-seekers shrink into tiny colorful dots below, and the ground become sadly and uncomfortably distant. I death-gripped Natalie's arm and squeezed my eyes shut. "You can stop now!" Brittany continued to yell as we dangled from the rope.
And then we heard the fateful voice come over the gentle hum of atmospheric wind, "Are you ready? 3, 2, 1, fly!"
Brittany pulled the cord, hard and fast-- like a band aid. However, she paused one moment to say, "This is it!" and I felt my intestines retreat further into my body in the fearful anticipation of being splattered and smashed on the sidewalk.
And then we fell straight down-- it would be a quick, fast, painless death. I can't remember if I screamed or not. In my head I was yelling bloody murder, but I think I only was able to voice a weak and kitten-like mewling on the way down. I stopped as soon as we began swinging back and forth-- Peter Pan style-- but continued to leech myself to Natalie's arm and absolutely refused to extend my own.
Sooner than I could have possibly hoped, it was over. I was more or less in shock, and rather light headed from the fall-- but ultimately I was completely unharmed and utterly speechless.

Because of my dear friends, I have learned something new about thrill seeking. For those of us who don't normally look for excitement, a bit of regulated free-falling doesn't hurt a bit. Yes, it scares us to death-- but afterword we can happily fall upon the ground and kiss its stable beauty, and simultaneously walk taller than the trees.

Britt and Nat,
We are as good as blood sisters now.
Welcome to the club.