Living on the Edge: Day Eighty-Four

Ella knows I don’t like heights. Okay, saying don’t like is understating it. I HATE heights. And that’s why she keeps doing arranging them for me. My different today was the EdgeWalk on the CN tower. There I’d been strapped into a harness, wearing an almost identical orange jumpsuit from the indoor parachuting place, 116 storeys above the ground. Just typing that made my legs shake and my stomach flip.

Please don’t get me wrong. They prepared us really well. Nobody had gotten hurt—or died—doing this. Still, I wish I’d grabbed a parachute when we drove into the parking lot of the Niagara Skydiving Centre. Wait . . . didn’t people jump from things like this wearing parachutes? Funny, I didn’t get a parachute from there but it seemed like I was wearing the same ugly orange jumpsuit.

Ella had always seemed so fearless in taking part in the differents. Today even she seemed nervous. She was trying to put on a brave face, but when Ella stops talking you know there’s something going on. Our group included two kids who had to be at least thirteen—because you had to be that old to do it—and a woman celebrating her 81st birthday who had been given it by her family. My goodness, did her family not like her? Did they want to give her a heart attack? Of course, she didn’t seem worried at all. She was the most relaxed person in our group.

After going through the process of signing up, we were escorted to an area where we were all asked to change into those ugly jumpsuits and take off all our jewelry and anything that could fall off or get caught on something. Then the EdgeWalk staff reviewed the procedures and showed us a short video to ensure we had all the information required to be safe. One guy asked multiple questions about each step of each procedure, wanting to know more details about how it all worked. He was obviously uneasy about the whole experience. We even completed a breathalyzer to make sure none of us were under the influence of alcohol. I got the need for everybody to be sober. I also understood why somebody would want to drink before doing this. We were about to walk 116 stories above the ground!

I’d like to tell you that when my turn came that I bravely walked out. Instead I was led—almost numb—up an elevator and through a narrow corridor. I was then hitched by a series of intricate belts and clamps to the harness safety mechanism that follows you around as you walk on the 5 feet-wide ledge encircling the outside of the top of the CN Tower. Five feet wide—who couldn’t balance themselves on a 5 feet-wide surface I kept saying in my head? I said it over and over, trying to convince myself.

As I took my first tentative step out onto the platform 1168 feet in the air, I thought that I was going to pass out, held in place by my harness but unconscious. I took the next step and the next, trying not to look up or down or over—but those were my only choices unless I closed my eyes and that certainly wasn’t going to make this safer!

Okay, I’d like to tell you that I overcame my fears, rose above it and started to enjoy every single second of it. I try not to lie. I did it. Forty minutes long and I did start to look out—not down, but out—and I saw the city spreading out before me. There was the lake, the islands in the distance, the Billy Bishop Airport looking like a model with tiny planes landing. OMG—there were planes flying by that were lower than me! I was higher than airplanes!

At one point there was a roar and I startled before realizing that down below me there were 50,000 Lego-sized fans cheering because the Blue Jays had just scored a run. Go Jays Go, but please no more runs until I get off the Edge.

Then, at the end, knowing I only had a few more feet to go I allowed myself to enjoy the moment. I looked out over Lake Ontario. It was breathtaking how the sun reflected and sparked off the water. It was beautiful. I was seeing the world from an angle I’d never had experienced. And I was seeing it through eyes that had always been too afraid to look at some things. I took the last few steps and climbed back in through the corridor. I had done it. I was safe. And then my legs just started to shake so badly that I almost couldn’t walk.

—jpxd

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