Monday, October 10, 2011

Reaching New Heights

 So, have I ever mentioned that I'm afraid of heights?
Well I have now.
Sometimes it gets pretty bad; usually when I've decided I can handle it and try something, only to find that the little voice in my head that keeps saying "Attaboy, you can do this, this is no problem," was talking out its poop-chute again.
As an example, I'll cite last year when a small fair came to town and Handsome wanted to go on the Ferris-Wheel. Well, he was just eight, and it was nighttime, and I didn't want him to go up there all alone and be scared or anything ... so I bought two tickets and away we went. Handsome was very good on the ride, holding my hand and patting my back and trying to distract me so I wouldn't actually cry on him ... yeah, it was not a shining moment for me.
Well, that brings us to today. My father, Dad, needed to adjust the dish on the roof so his Direct TV would pick up a few channels it was missing. It's a two story house, and the first floor isn't anywhere close to flush with ground level, so it was pretty much two and a half stories to the edge of the roof.

Yeah ... two and a half stories ... yeah ...

So we set  up the ladder and he started up. I was going to stay on the phone with him and monitor the television to tell him what a spiffy job he was doing up there. Two and a half stories up there. And that was just to the edge of the roof while the dish was at the peak, so it was really like 3 stories up there ... to the dish ... yeah ...
So he started up, but came back down.
"I don't like going up there," he said, "and the older I get the less I like it. I'm fine once I get on the roof, I just don't like the ladder bouncing while I'm on the way up."
I sighed.
"Okay. I'll give it a try."
So up I went. Huzzah. There was a stabilizer at the top of the ladder, and it was hooked on the roof, so it was pretty sturdy (If you discounted the bouncing. Apparently, if you extend the ladder so it's about a million feet high it flexes a lot. Who knew?) I got to the top and stayed there for a while, chin at the top of the ladder, looking at the roof spreading out before me. And above me.
I stayed there a while, with my hands on the roof surface listening to a steady jingling sound. The jingling, once I was able to focus on it, turned out to be the sound of loose little things on the ladder like the pulleys for the rope all shaking rapidly. Jittering and jouncing and jingling away ... in time to the shaking in my legs, which was so strong I was making the entire ladder tremble.
Huz. Zah.
I got down, and Dad suggested that we move the ladder slightly so it was right against the edge of the roof rather than having the stabilizer hold it slightly away. It would be easier to make the transition from ladder to roof that way, he said. Okay, we tried it.
I stood at the base of the ladder for a minute, looking upward and psyching myself up.
I'll be fine once I get on the roof, I thought, it's just that transition that's killing me. Just don't think about it and go right on up there. Charge it like the Marines taking a hill. Don't look down just up at the goal ... up at the goal...
So up the ladder I went, looking up at the goal, never looking back or down, straight up to the roof. My head rose to the level of the roof line and kept on going. I got a grip on the stabilizer, put one hand on the roof and kept on climbing. I got right to the top, threw a leg over the top of the ladder and planted a foot on the roof. One more step and I would be up there, man, up there and ready to work on that satellite dish! I shifted more weight onto that foot, preparing to yank the other foot up there and charge to the ridge line where the dish sat, mocking me from above.
As I put more weight on it, the asphalt granules on the surface shifted a bit and my foot slid slightly backward, toward the roof edge.

Sixty seconds later I was on the ground, watching my father climb toward the roof. He went right up and over onto the roof as I stood on the grass thinking back to the top of the ladder when everything in my gut had essentially made a run for the door. By then it had been too late and my terrified paralysis had been complete, locking every muscle in my body right down to the sphincter, thank God.
I went inside to use the bathroom before sitting at the television to monitor Dad's progress in adjusting the signal.

Sorry, Dad. I tried.

Talk to you later!

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