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A Moment in Time

December 3, 2010 1 comment

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

A Moment

I’m standing halfway down a mountain at a ski resort, about an hour’s drive north of Montreal, Canada. The fact that I’m here at all is somewhat surprising if you know me. I don’t travel very often, and rarely outside of the midwest. I had never been out of the country before this week in mid September. The entire week had been filled with different experiences and odd moments, and I was having a blast.

Back to that mountain. The end of summer has come to Quebec, and while it is around 70, there is a bit of that fall scent in the air. The trees are beginning to turn red and orange and yellow, and I’m surrounded by them. In fact, I’m standing on a platform halfway up the trunk of a good-sized tree. We’ve spent the last two hours or so pretending to be monkeys on an aerial obstacle course. Mainly for the zip lines, of course. The zip lines are the most fun.

Now I’m looking at the final zip line. It’s long. Really long. Several hundred meters. Maybe a thousand?  I’m not sure, anymore. I have just watched a cute French-Canadian girl clip herself onto the line, and go zooming down, screaming all the way. I can just see her at the base of the line, a little dot, waving at me that she’s clear, so I start to clip on. I’m wearing a simple belt harness (‘these are illegal in the States’ I had joked earlier in the afternoon while putting it on) with two safety lines attached by carabiners to whatever cable I’m closest to. Both of those snap onto the zip line. I’ve also got another device with rollers that will actually hold my weight and speed me down the line. I’ve been wearing a pair of dirty, sweat-stained work gloves; these will allow me to use one of my hands as a crude ‘brake’. Yes, there was definitely a liability waiver signed before we were allowed on the course.

I’m hooked up, so I crouch down, look at the very, very long cable run ahead of me, take a deep breath, and step off.

Zzzzzzzzzzz! The cable starts singing to me instantly. I’m going fast, and picking up speed every second. The breeze feels good; I’ve sweated a bit from the workout the obstacles gave me. I shout, because what else are you supposed to do when you’re suspended by a strap fifty feet in the air and doing forty or fifty mph down a zip line cable?

Seconds later, I’m halfway down. Still shouting, excited and a bit terrified at the same time. It’s time to start braking, so I start squeezing the cable. Unlike some of the shorter zip lines I’ve already done today, I’m moving very fast. It doesn’t take long for the friction to really heat up my gloved hand.  But it’s working. I’m slowing. I can see the landing zone ahead. Squeeze a bit more, feet up, get ready…

THUMP. I hit the landing pad, not too fast. I have no idea how long the run took. Less than a minute, certainly. It felt like an eternity. It felt like it was over in a blink of an eye. I want to do it again.

Look hard, I'm there. This is very near the end, at the bottom of the mountain.

 

A Confession

The moment I just described was not the moment that popped instantly into my head as soon as I read the prompt, this morning. That one is just for me.