Our departure for Sydney now looms in 19 Days, 9 Hours, 12 Minutes and 23 (oops, 22) seconds. Excited is probably an understatement for how my sister and I are feeling at this moment, and to add to the anticipation, the list making and day planning are well under way. I imagine things will build to a crescendo as they normally do when I plan a trip, and by the first of May, I will know exactly what we will be doing and when we will be doing it. That's just my way of making sure we miss nothing, mostly because once we are wheels up from Sydney on the return trip, that's it. We won't be coming back. At least not in this lifetime. It's a bit of a bizarre way of looking at vacations (and I'm sure someone somewhere would have a field day analyzing the psychological aspects of this) but that's the way I'm wired.
At any rate, there is one particular activity in Sydney that really stretches the upper limits of my neuroses. I have a particular fear of heights, which is funny coming from someone who grew up in an apartment twenty-one stories above sea level. While in an enclosed building, on an observation deck or an airplane, that particular fear never rears its ugly head. It's when I'm on an open platform or climbing on something that requires a bit of concentration, well, that's when I lose it. When I was nineteen, young, stupid and definitely more nimble than I am now, a group of us went on a day trip to Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca. A picturesque tourist spot, there used to be an area where you were able to scale the cliff face to the top of the falls and then slide down into the pool of water below it. Easy enough, right? Following the lead of my friends ahead of me, I started out, got halfway up, and promptly got stuck. Not physically, you understand. Hand and toe-holds abounded, so if my wits were about me, I could easily have continued to the top. No, instead I looked down, panicked and froze in place. There I was, clinging to the rock face in my bathing suit, plastered against the cliff and absolutely refusing to move, despite the chants of the twenty-five people below me encouraging upward mobility. The short and long of it? I had to be embarrassingly rescued by a good friend who clambered up to my level, told me in no uncertain terms to open my eyes, and then proceeded to talk me (in his lovely British accent, I might add) through the rest of the ascent.
So, in light of that long ago experience, this is the activity we will be doing on Thursday:
Dylan Explains the Sydney Bridge Climb
In preparation for this event, I've been spending my afternoons on the treadmill and the elliptical trainer, both of which have not felt my weight in over a year. While the possibility exists that I may freeze up and panic, I'll be damned if I'm bent over wheezing for air while I'm doing it. And if I do panic, I only have to remember that it's time to get over myself and keep going. I think that's a fine metaphor for the second half century of my life. Nothing to be afraid of here. Except maybe how I'll look in those coveralls.