Handy as I’m reputed to be, my daughter asked me to her new apartment to measure for window shades on a window wall…28 floors in the sky…which, of course, put me in contact with my raging acrophobia. So, unsteady as Jello, I stood on the inside window ledge, looking down at a ribbon of street with ant-sized cars and flea-sized people, moving ever slowly. Acrophobia wobbled my knees, so I reached for the thin metal window frame…anything protruding…to hold, white-knuckled, as I stretched up to measure for brackets, saying to myself, “Don’t look down. It won’t help looking down.“. One hand to hold, one to measure, like trying to tie shoe laces, while driving. All I could think of was an errant wind gust or slight tectonic vibration, popping out the windows…and me. And all that’s between me and the Great Outdoors and a gravitational plunge is the thin, invisible pane of glass I’m pressed against. I was not reassured, because my knees told me not to be.
Of course, to make matters worse all I could think of was a video…sitting at home at sea level, terra firma right outside the window…of iron workers, putting in place the needle-nosed spire of the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero that had been lifted by crane and swung over to them. Other workers, casual as batting practice, leaned against railings on a work platform a quarter-mile up, talking and joking. But I’m the one getting the queasy knees. They must like it. It’s simpler up there…no traffic, no litter, no noise, no Starbuck’s. And what’s better than knowing you can come back the next day and do it again?
Eventually, I snapped back to the measuring at hand, but neurotically kept hoping the window assembly met all the engineering specs and wasn’t the last one slapped together by impatient workers, waiting for closing time to get away for the Fourth of July holiday. Hope yours was good.