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March 2010

Flying on Fear Part One

Trapeze
 You know, it really did seem like a good idea at the time.  A great idea in fact.  I like adventures– I mean I did spend a few years working at Club Med, and still day dream about being back there doing the Crazy Signs in front of hundreds of guests every single night.  I SCUBA, I really REALLY want to go cage diving in Cape Town with Great White Sharks, and I even drank the tap water on a regular basis when I lived in Mexico.  So when my good friend Steevy asked me if I would take a Trapeze Class at the Boston Trapeze School with her, I jumped at the idea.  It sounded like a great time, a lot of fun, and a way to burn a few extra calories on a Saturday morning.  When I told her that I would do it, she seemed genuinely surprised.  “Seriously, you will really do it?  Are you just humoring me?”  I reassured her that I was not humoring fun of her, that I would in fact do it, and that we would sign up for February 13, 2010.  Done.

The weeks passed, and I told a few people what I would be up to mid- February.  If Carrie Bradshaw flew on the trapeze with the same group in a “Sex and the City” episode, I could do it too…  When I told my nephews, they thought it sounded pretty cool, and remarked that perhaps I could climb a tree as fast as they could follow my lesson.  My mother was less enthusiastic and told me that defying gravity was one of the stupidest things that I could be doing especially following a stroke and open-heart surgery.

Well, stupid or not, we made our reservation, and really there was no turning back.  The location was a bit odd.  The Boston Trapeze School is not located underneath a big top, but instead inside a furniture store - Jordan's Furniture Store.  Now I am not sure if you have ever been to Jordan's Furniture, but it is not your typical furniture store.  This is not Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn.  No.  This particular place was like Wally World meets Willy Wonka on a few hits of LSD.  That was what Steevy and I walked into on February 13. 

When we walked into the furniture store we were greeted by the blaring sounds of music, the smell of sugar and waffle cones from the ice cream and Jelly Belly stores that were nestled right near the trapeze school, and blinding multi-colored psychedelic lights of a waterfall lightshow that was located behind the giant trapeze net.  I thought that this was a furniture store?  Yeah, and an IMAX movie theater, and a restaurant, and a Jelly Belly store, and a trapeze school. Oh, and it kind of looked like the first scene of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy landed in Oz on top of the Wicked Witch.  It was that scary too…

After checking in with our waiver forms, lining up, and getting harness belts cinched so tightly around our waists that Steevy almost had a panic attack (she said it reminded her of her wedding dress) we were given a brief overview of what to expect.  One of our instructors (let's call him John) pointed to the platform that towered 4 stories above us and explained where to stand and where to not stand.  He pointed out that when we climbed up the stairs to the top, we were to move towards the edge of the platform, hang our toes over the edge, lean forward, stick our bellies and chest out and stand up straight. Once we had both hands on the bar (and one of the instructors was holding on to our “corset”), we were supposed to jump 6 inches off of the platform at which point another instructor  (we will call her Cindy) would let go of the corset and away we would fly.  As we were flying through the air, at another instructor’s cue (Amy), we were supposed to bring our legs up (and hook them around the bar), take our hands off (and suspend upside down while swinging), then bring our hands back off, kick forwards and backwards and forwards, and dismount with a back flip.  Yes, this was all on the very first try.  Very fitting for day 1 of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  That was it - the whole deal explained in 15 minutes to 10 people.

We were sent over to a row of chairs, and 3 people climbed up to the top at a time.  Each time 1 person came down off of the net, another person would go up.  Since I was 7th on the list, I had some time to think about what I was about to do, and I had time to watch what everyone else did.

As we sat and waited and watched the others fly, it looked so easy:  a grab of the bar, a bend in the knees, and after a little jump there was take off – the flying commenced.  After flying from one side of the net to the other instructions were given: "Bring the knees up."  "Take hands off." "Put your hands on." "Legs down." "Swing your legs forward, backward, forward, and back flip."   Seemed pretty easy, all the while flying through the air suspended by sheer muscle and will (and the safety harness just in case...)  More people flew and the line kept moving up.  And then came my turn.