Your Feet to Find It

by Sheena Jeffers

A leap into the unknown United States


My heels were hanging off the edge of a skyscraper. I was 400-feet in the air on the edge of a building that was built to sway when the winds were strong: today, the winds were strong. I had never met this stranger whom my arms were now tightly clutching. My assignment was to rappel down the side of this building in a pink tutu. This stranger was the person who was to help me go "over the edge." I held so tightly to his neck, he had to be secured to the building just in case he were to be accidentally pulled off the side due to a panicky twitch or moment of sheer fear. "You're going to be alright," he said. I felt the building swaying. "The ground is just down there waiting for your feet to find it." My feet. Suddenly my attention rushed to my feet. All of my weight was concentrated in my toes. My size 5 foot didn't have a lot of surface area to play with here. One slip. One slip is all it would take and my body would be dangling - DANGLING - from the side of a skyscraper while my mother watched from below. My mother. She had always been a skyscraper to me: the person who stood firm and rose above all the rest. She grew up the daughter of a preacher in a small town where everyone was baptized, married, counseled and prayed for through divorce by the same person: her father, my grandfather. She was acutely worried about her daughter hanging off the side of a building. "The ground is a wonderful place to be," she said. "So many beautiful things happen when your feet are on the ground." She had hugged me and told me to be careful - surprisingly, just once - and then nervously twisted the tie on her sweatshirt until my feet returned, grounded, before her. Grounded. I had been grounded as a child. I broke rules like "don't talk back" and "you should be sleeping and not reading." Once, I was told not to poke my little brother in the arm and I did. I had always been daring. I liked to discover the edge and hover right there. But here I was literally hovering on the edge and my heart was pounding, my eyes were so wide I could feel the sensitive skin in the corners of my eyes pulling, pulling, pulling. This wasn't like poking my brother in the arm. This wasn't like hiding under covers with a flashlight to read just one more chapter. This was a rush. This was a situation where death was certainly part of the equation. The stranger slowly started to twist his spine attempting to wiggle from my grip. "The ground is just waiting for your feet to find it."