Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fear of Fallling



When I was a young lass, you could find me doing all sorts of things that involved various permutations of height and speed. We have lots of amusement parks around here, and I was never one to shirk the experience of riding a rollercoaster that went upside down, backwards, whatever. Be on the balcony of something? Not even a second thought.

But I find that as I age, I am becoming, in simple terms, a fraidy cat.

I can remember the first time my mind screamed at me that my God, I was really high up and my God, I could fall and hurt myself. Possibly greatly hurt myself.

Hubba-hubba and I, dating at the time, trekked to Chicago for ten days or so when we were 26. We were at the Navy Pier on Lake Michigan where they have this very large Ferris Wheel. Not only is this a very tall Ferris Wheel, but you have the added illusion of height from it being up on the Pier and seemingly much further from the water because of that. Now listen, I had at that point been on billions of Ferris Wheels by this time in my life. Ferris Wheels were about a minus 1 on the danger scale to me. So we got on, expecting to revel in the glorious views of Chicago that would be provided.

Up we go, and have I mentioned that this is one mother of a Ferris Wheel? I don't know if my mind is blowing it hugely out of proportion or anything, but I am going to say it was by far the largest Ferris Wheel I had ever been on. I've got the camera ready to go, and I suddenly look down at Lake Michigan and start to feel a prickle of panic in my stomach. Nothing I couldn't handle, but definitely a feeling of uncomfortableness. I wasn't going to curl up in the fetal position, but nor was I going to lift both arms in the air above my head and shout "Whooooo!"

Then came the time when they start letting people off, and at some point, you get stuck up at the very top position. I remember clicking away with the camera, and then getting the sense that I was moving. And I was indeed moving because my boyfriend, being inimitably male and having the urge to do this encoded in his DNA, began to rock the gondola.

Time has mercifully blurred my exact reaction, whether it was a bloodcurdling scream, or grabbing his arms or probably some combination of both. Whatever I did, I was not a happy camper and my displeasure was amply conveyed to the perpetrator. Who scoffed at me, and told me I was being ridiculous.

Now hearing that story, can you blame me for feeling a small sense of alarm when standing on any kind of balcony?

All right, well maybe you can't. But from that day on, my fear of heights has gotten progressively more pronounced. Oh, I'll stand on that balcony, but I will be gripping the rails with all my might.

And for some reason, Hubba-hubba just laughs when I suggest he should pay for my therapy bills.

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