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My idea of fun, part 2

I’m in New York this week (WOOOO!), which means my first opportunity to explore my newly-discovered ambition to fly on a flying trapeze. I read Delilah S. Dawson’s splendid and inspiring post about trapeze lessons last year, and decided I was going to do it when I was next in an area that promised it. And then our trip to New York came up and I remembered it.

I put off booking. I put it off, put it off, until the last minute; the night before. I worried about getting hurt and having an Addison’s crisis and no insurance to pay for it. I researched the cost of setting broken limbs. I had butterflies all evening. A local friend said he’d done it a few years ago and warned me not to over-arch my back. Since I have a strong and bendy back already, I jokingly asked about the walk from my metro stop to the location, and whether I would get shot. (Those who know me know I wasn’t really joking. They’re shaking their heads a bit and rightly so.) I’ve never really recovered from the time Google Maps sent me marching merrily through one of the more dangerous areas of Miami. Reassured that I was completely unlikely to be shot en route, I mentally prepared myself.

I was bloody nervous. I had butterflies in my tummy, but the nervous diarrhoea got rid of them quick-smart. Walking to the space was good; it reassured me, and got me moving around to burn up some of the adrenaline. The staff were cheerful, friendly, and welcoming: nobody laughed at me for asking where the change room was or anything.

And you know what? It was terrifying. Fun. Amazing, fun, exhilerating, and utterly terrifying. Every instinct in the body says “don’t go up that big ladder”, “don’t hold that big swing bar” and “for the love of God don’t jump off!” and yet you have to do all of those things. It was an amazing rush. And utterly terrifying.

On the first swing, you learn how to get started, how to flip backwards and wrap your legs over the trapeze, let go, and swing by your knees for a bit. It’s amazing how available this is: I honestly thought we’d spend ages practising just the basics — turns out nope! You’re upside down and going for it on your first try. Then you catch the bar in your hands again, unhook your legs, and let go.

I bounced along the net (which was awesome fun) and gently flipped over the edge to the ground (as per instruction). And joined the queue to do it again. I was hoping that after the first go, I would feel such a joyful rush of adrenaline that I wanted to do it over and over — I’ve heard skydivers tell me that’s what they felt — but honestly, I was glad to get back on the ground.

The second time was better, no doubt about it. By the third, I was getting super tired. The adrenaline and fear were draining me, and my calves were getting sore. On the third swing, we dismounted with a somersault, which was kind of amazing: you barely do anything and just let the momentum whisk you base-over-apex before plopping into the net again.

The fourth time was the big enchilada: the catch! After inverting and hanging by your knees, you arch backwards and reach your hands out, grab the wrists of the catcher, and let go of your trapeze! It was exciting! I nearly opted out, and had to talk myself into it quite firmly. I had someone record a video of me while I was doing it, which spurred me to slightly greater confidence: to my astonishment, I did it! First try and everything!

It was fun: I challenged myself to do something exhilarating and scary, and it was totally worth it — but would I do it again? Not so sure. I’ve rewatched the video and been delighted at myself, but when I watched someone else’s GoPro video of their experience, I felt nauseous and scared and had to almost look away. So maybe once is enough for me. But I’m glad I did it!

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    […] well before I’d fully recovered), and all three were as wonderful as ever — including the trapeze class I mentioned. We also went to New Zealand with M’s dad, in an effort to show him some glorious fodder for […]

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