Lost in Suburbia: Taking My Fear of Heights to New Heights

I had been afraid of heights for as long as I can remember. When the other kids were pretending to leap tall buildings in a single bound, I was the one who pretended to be the building. Luckily, it wasn’t so bad I couldn’t wear high heels, or anything like that. But I was not a big fan of Ferris wheels or roller coasters or even extremely tall SUVs.

So you can imagine my delight when I learned that my brother had bought a house that was literally built into the side of a cliff.  There were only two ways get to it: either drive up a long series of steep, narrow, treacherous switchbacks, or parachute out of a plane.

Clearly this a great abode for someone who likes to live on the edge. However, for someone who has height issues, like me, it just doesn’t hold the same appeal.

Knowing this was a trouble spot for me, I wisely opted not to have a career as a hot air balloonist or take up skydiving, bungee jumping or hang gliding. I had successfully managed to avoid all situations where I would be dangling precariously over a gaping precipice, until the invitation came to see my brother’s new home.

Had I disliked my brother, this would have been an excellent opportunity to cut off all contact. But unfortunately that was not the case, so we accepted the invitation and set off for the mountain.

As we planned out our trip, I realized that not only was his house jutting off a cliff, it was also impossible to actually find on a map. Maybe it’s because all the topographers who charted the area up there accidentally plummeted to their deaths while mapping the roads. Whatever the reason, we decided to let our trusty GPS help us find the most direct, least perilous way up the mountain.

The interesting thing about the neighborhood where my brother lived was that the streets were all named for what they were. For instance, there was Little Hill Drive and Bigger Hill Drive. I thought this was some kind of geographical truth-in-advertising concept and appreciated it until we started the climb up the mountain.

“Turn right onto Plunge to your Death Street,” said our GPS.

“WHAT?!?!” I bellowed.  I could feel the beads of nervous sweat already forming along my brow. “Did she say ‘Plunge to Your Death Street?”

“Sharp left onto Careen off the Cliff Avenue,” continued our GPS.

“Come on. She did not say ‘Careen off the Cliff Avenue!’” I asked my husband, dubiously.

“Yes, I believe that is what she said,” he concurred.

“In 500 feet, bear right onto Sheer Drop into Oblivion Lane,” instructed the GPS.

“I really do not want to turn onto Sheer Drop into Oblivion Lane,” I said to my husband, looking down at the sheer drop ahead on Sheer Drop lane.

“Me, either,” he said. “Let me try programming a detour.”

“Rerouting,” said the GPS.  “Turn left onto Splat Like a Pancake Road and then right onto Last Chance to Save Yourself Street.”

“I am SO not feeling this trip,” I said as I began to hyperventilate. “Can we turn around?”

“I think we’re almost there,” he said.  My brother’s perch suddenly came into view.

“You have arrived at your destination,” said the GPS.  “2234 Couldn’t Pay Me Enough to Live Up Here Boulevard.”

I got out of the car and looked around. “You got that right, sister!”

Note:  for more “Lost in Suburbia,” visit Tracy’s blog at www.lostinsuburbia.net

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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