In my head, I leave my comfort zone all the time. I wonder if this is true for everyone?
I’m firmly in my comfort zone these days. My mental illnesses don’t like me to stray when they’re acting up, and my depression is currently pushing my head towards a dark and place. Doing anything that isn’t destructive would be moving out of depression’s comfort zone. It would prefer that we stay home and spiral deeper. I’m tempted to fight, but there’s breakage in her mind, and I don’t have the funds for serious domestic repair.
There is, of course, credit, but I like to save that for buying things and doing stuff. Visa should fund my fun, not my lunacy. That’s why trips to Vegas get paid for with plastic. It seems appropriate, paying with non-cash to travel to a place that’s non-real.
I haven’t been to Vegas since I quit smoking. My next trip should be interesting. I don’t think I’m going to be one of those “smokes while I’m in Vegas” people. I’m a fan of sin, but I can read the writing on the wall: a close friend decided to smoke again just for the five days we were there four years back. She’d quit before, and she could stop again. She’ll be quitting any day now.
Travel is out of my comfort zone. Anxiety disorder is, among other things, about safety, and my home is my safe space. Not just because it’s my home, but because I’ve made things just so. Hotels aren’t designed for me, and it’s hard to make them feel right, what with bolted-down furniture, friends who ask uncomfortable questions about my need to not-share, and the general lack of most of my stuff.
My stuff is my blankie. It’s not pink, and it doesn’t have a satin edge that soothes, but it calms me down just the same. [i] I use whatever’s handy when I’m not close to safe to make myself feel the same way. It’s why I like Vegas and all-inclusive resorts. Alcohol soothes: it silences the fractious brain.
I was also down in Vegas the year before the trip that corrupted our friend’s lungs. We went in March, and I won’t be doing that again: what’s the point of spending time in the desert if you don’t get heat? The days were lovely, but the nights were goosebump-inducing. Alcohol came to our rescue while we wandered around, but we chilled as we sobered up standing in the SlotZilla line. [ii]
It’s Vegas, baby.
Did I mention the bit where I’m just the tiniest bit scared of heights? And by ‘tiniest bit,’ I mean I’m scared of heights. It is, however, something I’ve hidden. I don’t know why: I admit to the spider-ick and my pathological, panic-attack-inducing fear of deep water, but the height-thing I keep under wraps. Perhaps because acknowledging it would be inconvenient: I’m the go-to for dealing with things above the ground, and being honest would conflict with the need to people-please.
I don’t think it’s a full-on phobia, but it’s close. It’s perhaps elevation-dependent: I’m pretty ignorant about the ins and outs of acrophobia. [iii]
Freemont Street is a fantastic place. It’s lights and sounds, tourists and locals, heads permanently swivelled, and people selling everything everywhere. Get your photo taken with Axl Rose and Batman. Buy a yard of margarita while you dance to the music that echoes along the blocks. Eat at the Heart Attack Grill: those over three-hundred and fifty pounds eat free. Buy a T-shirt or ten.
Relish the frenetic joy and the sense of universal friendship that permeates the street. Ignore the poverty at the fringe.
Mock the people who bring small children while secretly worrying about what witnessing Vegas at night will do to them.
Ride the aforementioned zipline.
It seemed like a good idea when we viewed it online. It seemed like a good idea on the plane and in the hotel. It seemed like a good idea right until we got up to the platform, and then it was definitely too late to back out, not because of the location but because my ticket had been paid for by the lovely man standing behind us in line. I also hate to make a fuss. It’s hard for me to imagine I ever wanted to be an actress: the spotlight is part of the job definition.
We chose the seven-story zip. Eleven stories are available, but I put my foot down, helped by the sight of very long lines. The world is full of crazy. Seven stories are seventy-five feet about the ground, which was high enough. I couldn’t believe I’d signed up for two blocks of insanity. I didn’t care about anything now but getting it done without admitting to fear. After all, my friend was insanely enthusiastic about the whole business.
Fear makes people feel alone, I think.
We harnessed up with the help of the employees. I refrained from making the same obvious jokes they likely hear day in and out without respite and winced when others didn’t. I checked my helmet three times. If the fall didn’t kill me, I wanted a brain. [iv]
The wait wasn’t as long as I hoped it would be, despite the time-drag of the teeth-chattering chill. We were staring out into the colourful, musical abyss of Freemont Street from the platform’s edge in no time. I can’t believe people pay to do this. I can’t believe I’m doing this. Please don’t let me wet my pants.
They won’t push you off the platform. I asked. It’s some kind of stupid rule, making sure people actually want to do this, that they have the vagina to do this. [v] You step off into nothing of your own free will.
So, I did. Peer pressure is an impressive thing.
It was glorious.
It was over too soon. I didn’t know flying would be so fantastic. I mean, I suspected it would be awesome, but still. Two blocks of flight weren’t enough. I wanted more joy. I wanted to soar forever, to look down at the people below as the wind rippled around me until I felt like I was a part of it. It was like satin covering me as the lights danced above, almost close enough to touch. [vi] I felt like a kid on a slide, jumping off only to race back shrieking, “again.” Which I would have if “again” didn’t mean two more cold hours and forty bucks spent.
But what I would have missed from my comfort zone.
[i] I had a pink blankie as a toddler.
[ii] It’s possible we were dressed for afternoon drinking and not evening ziplining, but I still blame the desert.
[iii] Acrophobia is the fear of heights. Vertigo is a spinning sensation. I must remember to thank Alfred Hitchcock for the confusion.
[iv] I find it interesting that I can be low-grade suicidal and still worry about accidental death.
[v] In honour of Betty White, who remarked, “Why do people say grow some balls? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”
[vi] Nowhere close enough to touch, but still.