Writing 101. Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page.

100208angelou055

I have been recovering from pneumonia, and have missed quite a few days of the writing challenge. I tuned in today to be asked the question, what are you scared of? I was asked to address one of my worst fears. I don’t have a terror of dying, nor of public speaking. Snakes and spiders don’t scare me. Its heights. That is my Everest. I don’t have the gossamer wings I’ve always craved. I don’t even have invisible wings. In preschool, a group of children dared me to swing upside down (on my coaxing), from the monkey bars with no hands. This occurred back in the good old days of metal cubes soldered together over a pad of cement. None of that springy material as ground-cover. Sure enough, I soared head-first  to the cement, and went splat. Concussion and a nose ripped open, requiring stitches. I decided heights weren’t for me.

 

I had nightmares for ten years about being thrown off a balcony… Then it happened. Even as I was in the experience of being set down on a ledge, I couldn’t quite believe it. It was an out-of-body experience. My nightmare was a reality. When I fell, time and space seemed to disappear and it took forever to hit the ground. I knew it was going to hurt and may well be fatal. Was the nightmare a precursor to this fated event? It seemed too coincidental. It was cruel to be spirited out of the world-siphoned away from your body- by an act that happened to be your worst fear. I survived, and of course, my fear of heights grew. Twice I have fallen and twice have been broken by the experience.

 

My fear was so great that I couldn’t venture past  ground level at the Queen Victoria Building, nor of most places. Anywhere that had an open centre and  a railing or balcony, well, I couldn’t do it. I am markedly better now. It has taken a long time. There are some places and experiences I will never allow myself to encounter, and I don’t need to. I have nothing to prove. Walking up a staircase after having been jostled up one, going up an escalator, and walking anywhere near a balcony is triumph enough. I am a nervous flyer. My child squeezes my hand, and bless her, talks me through it. Its the take-off and landing which scares me. When we ascend and are in the clouds, I relax. There is nothing to fear up here. I am embraced by clouds, and can relax, the fine opaque film reassuring me. I am above it all now. Concerns, terrors and nightmares.

 

I have a daughter who adores climbing. I watch her at gymnastics, climbing up the rope, all the way to the ceiling. I attended  a playgroup party at a softplay centre when she was three. I heard a little voice call out “look at me!” I looked up to see my child waving. She had crawled through three levels, found a gaping hole in the mesh, and had pulled herself through it. She was now standing on top, with nothing around her. “Stay still! Mummy is coming!” I called, in my best sing-song voice. My heart thudded as I made my way through the hellish levels of toddler fun. She thought it was hilarious, and I needed a stiff drink. Somehow we survived the experience. Its amazing what you can do when adrenaline kicks in. I have gotten used to seeing her climb at every opportunity. I may not have wings, but will do everything in my power to ensure whatever I have ever been through holds no tool that could clip hers.

Day Two. A Room With a View (or just a view)

If I had the power to get somewhere, where would I go right now? Considering that I just had my vacuum cleaner catch fire, and am immersed in the drudgery of running a household tonight, I would say New York. I would go in a heartbeat. I feel immense love and connection to a place I have never been. I can smell the aromas from the food stalls on the streets, hear the sirens and horns beeping in Times Square. The ads flashing across the neon signage. I would catch an off-Broadway show, thrilled to be supporting writers and actors in their aspirations. I wouldn’t do the touristy ride through Central Park with a horse and carriage. I would walk through, delighting in the squirrels scurrying in the trees. I would meet my kind, my soul group. The artists, poets and dreamers. I would know them and they me. I would have to travel with my daughter. This is her tribe too. We would skip through Central Park, amidst the fairy lights, and I would hail a cab and go directly to Greenwich Village. My child would show samples of her art to a friendly crowd gathered in a bustling cafĂ©, and we would listen to a singer with guitar accompaniment. The Village would be welcoming, and the smell of pizza slices and garlic would fill the air. We would retire to the brownstone flat we had rented, and be amazed that the city is still as alive at 2am as it was at noon. Windows sealed, the noise is dulled, and we prepare for sleep. Who can sleep! We are in New York!  So much to see and do. We wander the compact flat, and go to the linoleum table in the little kitchen, the hue of butter. We write down ideas, drawings, and lists of places we want to go when we wake. I feel safe here. The block of apartments has a fellow downstairs, and the natives are friendly. There is nothing to fear here, not even vacuums which explode.