I don’t remember exactly when I learned to be afraid of heights. AS a child I was fearless. My mother tells stories about the time I decided the fastest way down the slide at the playground was to jump off the platform at the top and my father did a running dive to catch me, tucking me into his stomach like a football. My father tells about the time we were at the playground in Oklahoma, the one with a metal pole about 50 feet high that had a rope netting attached at the top and to the ground, like a big rope teepee. The kind you would never find on a playground now because of lawsuits and lawyers and liabilities. Which may be the right call, because at the years old I saw that rope netting and went straight for the top,nevermind that the holes were almost as large as I was. My father had to rescue me from that one, too.
And then I grew up, and realized I could fall, and stopped racing to the top of every climbable object. I’d get that odd, swirling feeling in the pit of my stomach when I went up to the top of the hill in a roller coaster or stood near the edge of a roof deck.
It was about the same feeling I had last weekend as I climbed up a rickety ladder to a 25 foot platform and then leaned out over the edge holding onto a metal bar. As soon as I jumped and started swinging, though, my monkey brain kicked in and remembered we liked swinging through the trees, liked swinging upside down with our knees, liked the weightless fall into the net. Even better the moment, just an instant, really, of flying through space before being caught, and then the drop back into the net and groundside.
Which is why, despite the soreness that lasted four straight days, I would not be surprised to find myself back there again.