My two greatest fears on this earth are deep waters and heights.
Generally, people will listen to these declarations and sympathize. She’s had a bad pool experience as a child, they think. Or, she’s 5’2 and used to being close to the ground.
Never have I met someone who took these facts as a challenge. It should’ve set me on high alert when he turned to me and said, “exactly how scared of heights are you?”
It’s Valentine’s Day morning. I’m freshly showered, spritzed, and hair done. I saunter up to his car and fall gracefully into the passenger seat, all smiles, blissfully oblivious of what awaits me.
Breakfast is lovely, with heart shaped pancakes and red and pink M&Ms. We’re driving home when he asks me a peculiar question.
“How scared of heights am I?” I echo, tilting my head. “What do you mean?”
But he won’t tell me. He continues to ask for clarification, so I do my best to explain my fear and its limitations to him.
The subject of shoes comes up.
“So…should I not wear heels to dinner then?” I prod. He’s about to spill the secret, I can tell. I’ve got him on the ropes.
His green eyes shift nervously. “Um, no. Forget the shoe question. It’ll all work out.”
So, like an idiot, I forget the shoe question—until 5:15pm, at which time I arrive at his house in flip-flops (heels in my bag just in case).
“It’s getting kinda chilly out,” I comment, walking in and slinging my tote over the back of a dining room chair. I turn to find him standing mysteriously in the middle of the room, silent.
“Oh,” I say, “are we leaving already?”
“Not exactly. Just get a sweater.” He takes up his guitar and I follow him out the back door to the yard, like a lamb being led to the slaughter.
“I haven’t been out here in years!” I exclaim, looking around at the old sheds. “So, now what?”
To my horror, he steps aside, revealing a metal ladder behind him. I smile at him, glance at the ladder. My face falls. I watch him, I glance at the ladder.
My answer comes out clear and steady. “I’m not going up there.”
“It’s not that high.”
“I’m not going up there.”
“I’ll help you.”
“I’m serious. If I get up there, I am not going to be able to get down!”
“You’ll get down.”
“I’m wearing FLIP FLOPS.”
“I can do it and I’ll be carrying a guitar.”
Within this span of very loud, very passionate, Valentine’s Day discussion, I somehow find myself halfway up the ladder, baby toes clenched against the edges of my flip flops and fingers gripping the metal spokes of the ladder until indentations show on my skin. I mutter a flow of negativities and thoughts of inevitable death under my breath.
Like a fawn being born, I stumble, crawl, and eventually walk unsteadily across the shingles and sit in a folding chair he set up on the peak of the roof.
He proceeded to joke around, lean precariously off the side of the fireplace, laugh and stretch a leg out as if he were contemplating
plummeting to his end a jump to the ground.
Because nothing’s funnier than death.
We sang together. Songs we’ve rehearsed and harmonized. Songs we’ve created and dedicated. Songs we wanted to share, taking turns with the guitar.
And when the sun went down, I never got off the roof.
I’m still up here. Thinking about life, love, and the person I chose to spend my Valentine’s Day with.
Was it a mistake? It’s kinda cold up here. But at least he brought me my laptop and gave me the Wifi password.
So maybe this is a love story after all.
I hope it doesn’t rain soon.
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