I’ve had some vacation this summer, and I’ve watched some “All in the Family” as well. The first thing I think about when I think of vacation is the relaxation. Archie knew how to do it. His infamous chair. He fought for that thing. Did you see the episode where his chair becomes part of an art display? I digress….hang in there. I have a point.
Archie didn’t go on vacation in any episode to my knowledge. He was pretty content in his chair. I get it. My couch and I are lovers. Totally. As I sat on the beach this summer, however, I had a little problem.
It’s hard to turn your mind off sometimes, isn’t it? I’m sure most of y’all are the same. You have an internal list of things to do, pretty much going all the time. As soon as you check something off and have the luxury of forgetting it, you have to replace it with something else, right? Get kid to doctor’s appointment, call about that bill, laundry, dishes, yard, groceries, cook supper, and don’t forget that meeting, and don’t be late for work! That report is due, and you still haven’t done the dishes. They will wait until tomorrow. Do you think the dog is OK? Maybe we need to get him a different kind of food. Why aren’t my beans growing? My tomatoes will be ready to can soon; I need to make sure I have some lids. They’re probably in the pantry. I think I saw some chips in there. Remember to get the dip the boys like to go with the chips. Must return that email before I forget! And so it goes…Even when all is right with the world, there’s just a lot going on.
I forever have the feeling even when lounging on my Bunkeresque couch, that there is something else I need to be doing. Even when the laundry is caught up, I should really clean out my closet…always something.
That’s what is so wonderful about vacation. If you make the effort to go away, far, far away from home, you can’t do all those things anyway. At some point, you realize, well…it’s going to have to wait a few days because I’m two states away and can’t do anything about it now. And when that really, really sinks in, maybe just maybe you can relax.
Part of my vacation plan was to go zip lining. Fun! What could go wrong??
This is the irony of life: All the overthinking I do on a regular basis, all the worry and preparing in mind, and yes that infernal list that never lets me sleep….and yet I did NOT think about the zip line much at all. We’ll be strapped to something and you glide down a line in the air, right? Sounds fun, right? Anyone can do it, you just rely on gravity. What’s the big deal?
We were only like 30 minutes into the thing when I looked at the girl running the show and told her that they really needed to make it more clear on their website this is not for the old or out of shape. I was challenged.
We had to go through a “ground school,” which consisted of a zip line about 5 feet off the ground. We simulated there and learned to brake, slow down, and, if the situation ever arose, to do a “self rescue,” which meant that you had to pull yourself to the next tree/zip station. OK, I’ve got it, let’s get this show on the road!
I was not the oldest in our little group, but was no doubt the least fit. We hiked about a mile through the woods to the first tree/station/place you’re gonna zip from. We climb up and strap on, and away we go. Even a caveman can do it, right? The 14-year-old went first, then the 16-year-old, and they both did great! Hook me up, guys! It’s mom’s turn!
Everything was fine except I didn’t account for the panic factor. I knew it would be fast and high up. I’m truly not that afraid of heights. It was the flying straight into another tree at blistering, break-neck speeds that I wasn’t prepared for. As I approached my first stop, the wind in my face, it was fun, yes, so fun! But I’m going so fast, so fast, so fast, and there’s the TREEEEEEE!!! This can’t be right; I’ll have to slow myself down. Engage manual hand brake! And I did. And I stopped. And then I was hanging there…on the zip line. No speed, no momentum, nothing to get me up to the next tree, except myself. Crap.
I hear the crackle on the radio. “Don’t send the next one. Self rescue, self rescue.” I told them later they really need to use a better word than rescue. The word itself implies something has gone terribly wrong. How about just “self help.”
Picture hanging from this line, dangling, unmoving, umpteen feet in the air. The highest and longest was like 288 feet up and 1,500 feet across. The one I stopped on wasn’t that high, but it was high enough, Edith. We had been told to turn around and reach up to the cable above us and pull ourselves UP to the next tree, hand over hand. This is when I was truly thinking I should’ve been kicked out and flunked from the ground school training. Couldn’t they tell I’m not in shape for this? But what choice have I now? None.
Add to my situation the embarrassment factor, as there were three other adults with us besides me and my kids. Strangers, getting their jollies, no doubt, by laughing at me. I didn’t see any filming going on, but I’m checking YouTube daily, searching for key words like, “dangling goof mom zip fail.”
I could feel the muscles in my arm screaming as they were being asked to do something they had never had to do. I questioned whether I even could do this, but also realized I didn’t have much of a choice. What was the recourse? I don’t know, and thank God I didn’t have to find out.
Let’s cut to the chase: I did finally make it to the end of the line. I was very sore the next day. I can happily report, though, that at no time during my delirious dangle did I once think of all the things I needed to be doing on that eternal list in my mind. To that end, I guess, the zip line was a good form of vacation. Near death scares and public humiliation are good for you to prioritize all the other junk you gotta deal with, right? Makes that list seem much easier to tackle. Now let’s just fold that laundry and see what Archie’s doing.
A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at email@example.com.