At some point in every woman's life comes a time when she has to face her fears and say:
"You can't scare me. I have children."
Fellow parents - do you find that things that used to turn you pale have lost their power to frighten since you've become conversant with the small beings who move into your house, take all your money, leak all over you and never let you watch the fun channels on TV? I don't know what it is - if all the years of plunging my bare hands into unspeakable substances have worn down my fear response or if it's just that I've forced myself to do scary things (like go headfirst down really high water slides) so many times solely to sew up the rights to mock my kids for NOT doing them. Or maybe I'm just too damned tired to be scared.
Anyway. I'm pretty sure that before I had kids you never would have caught me dead harnessed up and walking on skinny, swaying trails of octagonal beams or half-missing strings of swinging steps ten metres off the ground for three hours on a Saturday afternoon, FOR FUN. I still haven't decided if it's better or worse that my husband was in Australia for the group aerial adventure. I really wanted someone there that I could curse at with impunity if I got into trouble (the other three women generously offered up their husbands for cursing-at purposes). On the other hand, the tense discussion about whether we should race back to Mark the financial advisor's house in order to sign the life insurance policy for Dave which was currently unsigned, and Dave's subsequent musing on whether leaving the policy unsigned for the moment might actually render him safer while wandering around among various tightropes and swaying timbers made me think it was not so bad being a seventh wheel. We did establish a loose rule that, of the two people allowed on every course feature at one time, both should not be members of the same married couple. That's just good sense, right?
We also had a moment's pause when they divided us into an English group and a French one and, while the French guide gave his group a good ten-minute talk, our guide said "everybody got their gloves? Okay, let's go!" We were in Quebec, after all - what if they were giving the French people all the GOOD safety rules and letting us go first to see if anything went wrong? I know, I know, sometimes living in Ottawa makes you paranoid. If they were less than eager to preserve our safety over anyone else's, it was probably because of the pretty much indefensibly immature way we reacted to the whole 'nobody is allowed to touch anyone else's equipment' rule.
On the whole, it wasn't as hard as I expected. Except for about three spots, which were much, much harder than I expected. On one, I caught myself about halfway across actually doing horror-movie breathing -- you know, sobbing out, squeaking in? It was amusing, until I realized I couldn't stop. And then there was this:
My evil nemesis
So you had to get from the platform onto the ladder, which was perpendicular to the platform, and then onto the web. Except my carabiner buckles got stuck between the ladder post and the web while my body was already on the web, and by the time I got them off I was at the very limit of my arm strength. It was a strange feeling - sort of 'wow, if my life depended on how strong and smart I was about this, I would totally be dead'. So I experienced a moment of complete and utter panic, and then let myself go and rested in the harness for a moment. And the world didn't end, and people were waiting, so I figured out a way where, instead of getting my feet back on the web I just used one hand to pull myself along the bottom of the web and the other to scoot my carabiners along the lifeline - it wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. My pride was somewhat salved by the fact that the rest of our group then decided to go across the same way without even trying the other way. They might have just been trying to make me feel better, but frankly I don't really care.
I thought I might be nervous about the ziplines. But the ziplines were at the end of the courses - Christ, by the time I got there I was so happy for a rest I would have....um.... done something even scarier than ziplining (sorry -shocking comparison FAIL).
There's always a certain 'why am I doing this?' factor to any of this stuff - why do we go camping, or do canoe trips, or pay good money to experience pain and fear in at least a small measure? Because we don't have to hunt for our food, or fight in wars, or plough fields and gather crops? Partly, I think. Partly just because we need to break our routine and challenge ourselves every now and then. Partly because it's good to take something to which your first response is 'oh HELL no' and see if 'well, maybe' is a possibility. Partly because after an afternoon like that, food tastes really good and every beer is the BEST BEER EVER.
Everyone I know who has done this course said my legs would be toast for a few days. Naturally, my legs are fine - when do I ever have a normal reaction to anything, I ask you? My arms are really sore (I made a few unpretty noises while trying to lift library books onto shelves today), and I have some fairly impressive bruises on my inside biceps. But my back? It feels great - I think ziplining might have cured it.