Remember that scene in the movie ELF when Buddy the Elf gets on an escalator for the first time? When he puts one foot on the moving staircase, holds onto both handrails and drags the other foot behind, doing a semi-split?
I’ve never done that on an escalator, but I’ve been known to get freaked out on them. If it’s impossible to hold the handrail – if I’m lugging large suitcases or carrying a heavy desktop computer – I
almost can’t even get on. Elevators bother me, too, especially if I have to ride them alone; I always fear the thing will break down, and then I’ll panic so much, I won’t be able to call for help – or that if I can, it won’t come.
I’m able to dispel such elevator-fears if other people are riding with me. But then I always think of the fact that we’re suspended by cables, riding through space. Which arouses a whole new set of fears.
Jenny, the main character in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, doesn’t have these phobias, but like me, she’s afraid of heights. Whether she’s in the Swiss Alps, the Medieval fortress of Carcassonne, France, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, she’s afraid she’ll never make it down, or that one false move could be the end.
I’ve always been afraid of heights – that hasn’t changed – so it was natural to let Jenny have the same phobia since MAKE THAT DEUX is drawn from my own experience as an exchange student in France. Facing my phobia hasn’t cured it, malheureusement.
But here’s a list of places I have climbed or visited, in spite of my fear:
1. – 3. Those first three I mentioned above, where Jenny also went: the Alps, Carcassonne and the Leaning Tower;
4. The Colosseum in Rome (not a tower, I know, but it’s high)
5. (the top of) the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
6. Sacré-Coeur Basilica at Montmartre
7. (the top of) the Bell Tower at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (I know, not that high, but still)
8. The “nosebleed” seats in the Georgia Dome and Turner Field in Atlanta, and in Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia
9. The top of Stone Mountain, Georgia (I’ve hiked it several times, once while carrying a toddler all the way)
10. Numerous (steep) hiking trails in Arizona
11. The East Maui Volcano in Hawaii
12. Chateau Eza in Eze, France
13. The Empire State Building in New York
You may ask: What about the Eiffel Tower, pictured above next to the Leaning Tower and the Colosseum?I’ve walked over to it, but I’ve never ascended it. Last summer, in Paris with my husband, we decided it was too crowded to go up in the Tower (a good excuse).
However, I wanted to have a drink with him one evening, nearby or in it (if that can be done), to see it lit up at night. But we didn’t look into the possibility. Next time, perhaps.
I’m like Jenny in many other ways, but not all. Not even most, despite what those who know me might believe. The protagonist in my new novel (to be released later this year) is also like me in some ways. For example, “C” and I are of the exact same mind when it comes to jewelry: what we like and don’t like. And neither of us are fond of flying, though we do it.
But she’s her own person, with her own (deep) fears…
I think it’s actually impossible to not look like an idiot trying to take a suitcase up an escalator. Even if I stand right beside it, it always ends up 4 steps behind me somehow..!