I did it!
We stand in line for what seems like forever. The only thing that passes the time is playing the hand flip-flop game with my mom. You know the one? Where she puts her hands on top of mine, with her ring turned into her palm, and I try to slap her hands before she pulls them away? We play even after I elbow the man standing behind me. I’m actually pretty good at it (the game, not injurying random strangers), but this post isn’t called “flip-flopper,” is it? That was a nice distraction, though, from the real reason we came to this place.
My parents talk to the attendant who once visited our state while we wait, first in line now. She lets us through; we store our backpack and my new set of precious stones in Locker 102. I watch as the man scans my mom with a wand. He doesn’t scan me; I’m not sure why. Then my mom hands me a pair of brown booties to put over my shoes. They say it’s so we won’t scratch up the glass.
Oh yeah, the glass… we are seconds from walking out on the glass. I can see the canyon in the landscape out the window. My heart is already racing, my knees are already a little unsteady.
It was just yesterday–at the edge of Memorial Bridge at the Hoover Dam–that I discovered my fear of heights. Funny, huh? That I made it almost ten years before I knew this about myself? It makes my fear of the dark seem so childish, so immature.
The glass doors open. There is nothing childish about the fear that has me gripping the rail with white knuckles. I take a few steps and look down. There is still a ledge just below me, but further out, I see the drop-off to the canyon, the canyon we joke is better than the “good” canyon, but not quite good enough to be the “best” canyon. There is nothing to joke about as I slide my booties along the frosted glass at the edge of the Skywalk.
They say it’s time for pictures. I press my hand into my dad’s as we stop for the first photo-op. I can feel my heart beat in every part of me: my neck, my big toe, my fingertips. I’m pretty sure my dad is having a panic attack. I don’t want to take more pictures. “You can do anything for one minute, right? Mom says. Yeah, I’ll remember that the next time she whimpers at having to get on a crowded elevator.
I do pose against the outer edge in the center of the glass walkway and even sit in the center, 4,000 feet above the canyon floor, but only because my mom says I can go as fast as I want to the exit when we’re done. Click. Smile, click, click. Cling to the rail and skate on bootied feet straight to the distant doors.
My heartbeat retreats to the center of my chest, where it belongs. Now if only my parents were ready to go. Never mind, I did it!
I’m participating in the 9th annual Slice of Life Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are on vacation to the Grand Canyon, and so are making a lot of slice-worthy memories. When I asked my daughter which one I should write, she said, “the Skywalk from my perspective.” how could I say no to that chance? And to hear her tell me how she experiences fear was a great way to add authenticity to a story about my favorite character. Enjoy!