Friday, December 08, 2006

Flying through the air with the greatest of ease

This is a story about adventure, although not in knitting. As a birthday surprise, I took my 14 yo to Trapeze School. She was really, really surprised, but not in a good way.

The school is at the front of an elaborate mall at the entrance of a huge furniture store. The entrance is filled with giant statutes made from jelly beans. There is also a giant water feature, a restaurant and a candy store. There is pleasant, inspirational music playing on the loudspeaker.

To get to the trapeze, you climb up a scaffolding that is about as high as where we go for the waterslides. Those who will be flying wear harnesses attached to ropes held by someone on the grown. And, you swing over a net. It's very safe, but when you haven't yet gone and you don't know quite what to expect, it is pretty frightening. And I say this as one who has bungee jumped, sky dived and craves double black diamonds.

To fly, you start standing on the edge of the upper deck holding onto a white pole while your spotter holds your harness and pulls the trapeze swing toward you. You grab it with your right hand and then with your left. All the while, your spotter has you by the harness, which is like a very thick belt. This is the scariest part of the journey. Your mind just doesn't understand and is screaming at you to get back from the ledge. But you must ignore that advice and instead jump off.

Once in the air you realize that holding onto the bar is easier than you expected and that you are held securely by the safetyropes. Then you get to enjoy this incredible sensation of swinging. It's exhilarating. You fly past all the decorations and the colors and through the music, but you don't really see it or hear it, you just have this incredible sensation of speed and weightlessness. It's like when you were a little kid on the swings only much, much, much better.

If you want to do a trick - hanging from your knees, the spotter on the ground talks you through some moves. As you swing away from the platform, he says to bring your legs up and hook them on the swing. Then you let go of the bar and swing from your legs. You arch your back and put out your hands as if you were going to reach up and grab the arms of another trapeze flier. Then you grip the bar again and bring your legs down. Then you kick forward, back forward, let go of the bar and tuck and do a back flip. If you land it right, you pull out of the tuck and hit the net in a seasted postition. You don't fall fast because your spotter has the ropes and is slowing the descent. This is all easier than it sounds because of the momentum of the swing.

The second time, you're not scared - at least not as much so. And the third time, you're really thinking about how to improve the leg hang. Toward the end of the lesson, if you're ready, they have you try to perform a catch. That's just like it sounds - there's a person on a swing on the other side who catches you as you swing across.

My daughter didn't think this was a good idea. She stood at the top of the plat form repeating over and over, "I can't do it. I just can't do it." I tried to talk her through it, because I thought once she'd tried it, she'd be so glad she did. The man who ran the show suggested I leave it to him. "Sometimes, we do better with 14 yo than do their mothers," he said. I decided he was probably right. At that point, however, I was starting to think I'd blown it. I promised her this big surprise for her birthday and she hated it. Well, we can't win them all.

After one of my jumps, I came walking up the stairs and was surprised to see that she wasn't huddled in the corner. Had she left the platform? Did she finally just give up? No, she was getting read for her first flight. She loved it. She walked back up the stairs babbling about how great it was. She even thanked me and said she loved me. I cried.

She now has a t-shirt that says "Don't worry about the fear, worry about the addiction."


Janice said...

WOW! What an amazing birthday adventure!! I am so proud of your daughter for taking the plunge!! From one who likes her two feet firmly on the ground, that would be a VERY big first step!! I love the t-shirt she has... I kind of need one for knitting.......

Jknits said...

That's a good idea. I wonder how much of a market there would be for fun knitting t-shirts?

Anonymous said...

Wow! I don't think I would ever get Sophia to do that!!