If you look up scaredy cat in the dictionary, there is a good possibility that my picture is the image under the definition. Hi. My name is Jen and I am a scaredy cat. My parents make fun of me for it and Husband laughs at me because of it. When I was little, I sat on the shore looking at the ocean – not for its beauty but so as to not turn my back on it. So when my mom wanted to get on el teleférico de Puerto Plata, the cable car of death that rises a bazillion feet to the peak of Mountain Isabel de Torres, it was of no shock to anyone that I was dragging my feet and suggesting mimosas by the pool instead.
Waiting on the line was a balance of “let’s get this over with” and “can we do this already.” The kids handled it like champs. One woman behind us used them as examples for her kids, meanwhile, I was an anxious wreck. When we stood on the platform waiting to board the next cable car I took controlled, deep breaths and tried not to snap at my mom who told me to stand by a window.
“A window?” I half yelled, sounding like I had just heard a ridiculous idea, “I don’t want to see a thing from that window.”
One by one, our group ushered in to the death car; I was smack dab in the center… on purpose.
I yanked my dad away from the door – that was closed and locked, mind you – and scolded him like a kid playing too close to the edge of a tall cliff, “Get away from there.”
From the middle, I gripped on to the bar that circled the cable car and carried one of the kids. My back hurt and my arm was getting tired but I had convinced myself that if the bottom dropped out – because, yes, this is what I think about – I could hang there holding both of us with one arm, Captain America style. I don’t know what my plans were for everyone else but it was a start.
Fear is a funny thing. It imagines dragons where there are none. I know this because when we reached the top and I let myself exhale, there were, in fact, no dragons. Just Christ (the Redeemer) and views that helped you see way beyond fear… and into Sosúa. The ocean expanded out before us in that infinite way that oceans do, meeting the sky somewhere too far away to tell where one ended and the other began. Lush green trees and tropical flowers grew all around us, obvious that they had been put there centuries before we were ever up there. And at some point it dawned on me – I would have missed this. Given the chance, I would have stayed safely on the ground, 800 meters below, and convinced myself that the view from down there was perfectly fine.
I can’t sit here and tell you that that one trip changed me. The way down was no easier than the way up. I was still Captain American-ing the bar. I, once again, positioned myself in the center to avoid actually having to face that fear. I’m pretty sure I snatched my dad away from the door again. And I couldn’t wait to get off and kiss the ground.
But it was never about losing the fear, it was about moving past it.