“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Yesterday was a very special day. For the first time in my life, I flew. I soared 30 feet above the stage, swinging from one edge to the other, pointing my toes harder than ever and clutching my beloved Peter Pan. Upon initial takeoff I released one single squeal (and several pathetic whimpers at the height of our flight), but wore nothing less than an ear-to-ear smile for the duration of our flying practice. Because guess what…I loved it!
If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I have a complicated relationship with heights. Well, after the invasive harnessing process (think Forrest Gump meets chastity belt) the butterflies in my stomach started doing actual backflips. Not only was the leather contraption extremely difficult to move in, being all buckled in meant there was no backing out of this flying business. It was go time. The straps seemed to close in tighter and tighter on my chest with each restrained breath. I could feel my legs loosening up like warm jello as I watched Brenna fly, then Melissa, then Ian, then…it was my turn. They hooked me in, placed me next to Ian, and asked if we were ready. Grabbing Ian’s hand with my own notoriously clammy one, I made one final attempt to flee, pleading with the stage hands, something along the lines of “I really don’t like this, I don’t like it at all, can we wait a little while or just raise me up one foot before we go for the full monty or maybe I’ll just watch from down here?”, but they shook their heads crassly, eager for their coffee break, and I realized none of those options were available to me. So instead I remembered how my Grandma (Gma, as we call her) told me that I would do it, because I had to, and I’d be damned if I let the fear hold me back. Ian looked at me with his impish little grin, gave his arm signal to the wings and with the tug of a rope we lifted off.
Weightlessly rising from the stage, up into the air, I squeezed Ian’s hand even tighter. Our first flight was a bit bumpy, and I imagined the blinking on of a seatbelt sign overhead and a stewardess’s pursed voice informing us of the slight turbulence up ahead. I swung out to grab Ian’s other hand, so we were suspended face to face and I refused to take my eyes off of him, afraid of where they might end up if I did. Before I knew it, we touched back down to the marley, then flew up again, and again, about 4 times until the stage crew could stave off their thirst for coffee and a comfortable chair no longer. We de-harnessed, bundled up in warm knits, and I realized that I was actually excited for our next flight.
It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? How experiences can fly so completely off from the track that exists in your mind, like that first time you tried chicken salad or mint toothpaste. Something you expected to taste so bitter turns out to be quite refreshing and the surprisingly good reception of it all is really liberating.