An installment in the New York Times Deployment Diary
I clipped in my harness, took a deep breath at the base of the metal ladder and slowly started the long, precarious, 23-foot climb. As the ladder gently swayed with every movement, I tried to create the illusion of composure while getting to the platform at the top as quickly as possible. The mixture of adrenaline and fear is my version of a Long Island iced tea: seems like such a good combination, until you get sick or black out. I remind myself that people (like me) actually pay for this feeling.
It was my sixth flying trapeze class. I was still fairly nervous. A handler greeted me on the platform and reviewed the trick I was attempting: the Pullover-Pump-Shoot, my first “blind catch.” I had done the trick close to 30 times, but never with a catcher. Jump from platform, feet come over the bar for a complete backward rotation, and upon command, pump my arms and shoot over the bar into his upside-down hands. “Seems easy enough,” said no one ever. A blind catch is exactly that: You can’t see the person catching you while you’re in the air; rather you just have to let go and have faith that he’s there. I missed him on the first attempt, plummeting to the safety net. My second (and final) effort was textbook. I could be heard yelling “Wooh!” on the video when I felt his hands grasp my forearms. That rush is tough to beat.
My husband’s cousin Clare introduced me to Trapeze School New York over a year ago, and I was instantly hooked. Our bimonthly class and dinner has become a sacred ritual. The logistics have become more challenging while my husband is away on a Navy deployment, so I greatly cherish those few hours, doing what my mother used to threaten us children with: running away to join the circus.