Thursday, July 15, 2010


There happened to be a field trip that coincided with my birthday this year (February 23rd). It was to iFly Adventures on the peninsula, and I had actually read up on it last year - it was started by a guy who left HP at about the same time I did. It seemed like a really interesting idea, to create a wind tunnel that people can free fall in - the effect of skydiving without the airplane.

I signed us up. Ben - my cliffhanging, No Fear child - was so excited he could hardly hold still in the car. Tanner - my sweet, amiable analytical - got quiet. I - driver that I am, and natural program manager - tossed all of the risks around in my head for 25 freeway miles.

Here is a synopsis of my fear-induced mental game:

I'm over 40, hell, I don't need to prove anything to anyone. Why am I doing this?
What if I pass out in the tunnel?
What if I barf in the tunnel?
What if I pee my pants in the tunnel with that silly jumpsuit on?
What if I barf in the CAR? Can I turn around and go home?

By the time we arrived, all spit was gone from my mouth, seemingly never to return. I sat through the educational seminar, helped kids get suited up, got my own goggles on good and tight. Sat in line a good long time watching other people do this (mostly kids, of 25 people only 4 parents flew), what went well, what went wrong. My blood pressure was not what I would call stabilized. My chances for any kind of control were slim, but I had this: I could tell the instructor exactly what I was and wasn't willing to do.

When he finally came to bring me into the tunnel, I gave him this dictate:
1. I do NOT want to fly up into that cone.
2. Do NOT let go of me.

We're good, he said, through the roar.

As soon as I was aloft, all fear drained. I arched my back, held my head up high, and it was one of the most wonderful, exhilarating moments ever. I am, after all, a fairy; flying should be natural. I would happily go back again, and no risk planning necessary.

Tanner, on the other hand, clawed to get out, gave the guy a real run for his money, and will never be talked into going back.

Ben was Superman.

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