Day 15 – What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Pick your strongest memory.
Mine was when I climbed up the side of two buildings with no rope, no net, no safety whatsoever, and a cop car within spitting distance. I wish I had as much safety as this picture above. I would not have freaked as much as I did, at least. The only means of keeping my wits about me was a friend of mine who is much more skilled in climbing buildings and jumping rooftops than I am.
I probably just started college at this time. It was a weekend and the Downtown area was packed as usual. The sun had only been gone for a few hours, but the night might as well have been pitch black if not for the streetlights, the headlights from passing cars, and the neon signs hanging over each shady entrance to a club. I was unfamiliar with this part of the city at the time; never was I much of a club goer.
Against my better judgement, I decided to hang out with this friend “J” by myself. I usually sought out another, mutual friend to hang out with me when it came to visiting J. You see, J has this strong mentality that he could seduce any woman chooses. Any woman except me, that is. But good lord does he try every chance he gets. There were no other friends available and I couldn’t back down. I was, and am, way too nice for my own good.
Wandering past restaurants and pubs converted to clubs, J spotted a narrow space between two buildings. It wasn’t quite an alley; it felt more like a crawl space than anything else. It was most certainly a dead end as well. We walked through a line of people waiting to enter a dance club. J slipped into the black space. I imagine he thought no one would notice. The difference between acting stealthy and actually being stealthy is that the former tends to be very conspicuous. The bouncer noticed him right away and looked at me. “That’s not really an alley,” he said to me. I replied with a look of “Is that so?” and darted after my friend as if to retrieve him.
Once my own body was swallowed into the shadows, I stood still to allow my eyes to adjust. I like to think my super power is Darkvision — the extraordinary ability to see with no light source at all — but the take back is that I’m as blind as a bat without corrective lenses. I found J standing farther down, waiting for me. I was very concerned for myself by this time. Let the record show that I did/do not trust J to not hit on me any second of the day.
“I hope you realize that this place is a dead end,” I said while pointing to the strip of brick wall at the opposite end of where I stood.
“I know,” he replied. He looked up and smiled, “Have you ever gone roof jumping?”
Surely he must be joking, I said to myself. This was me we were talking about. I considered myself to be exceptionally dull; the straight character of a comedy, if you will. The Doug character in The Hangover movies.
(To some degree, I still agree with this assessment. Most recently I was compared to sometimes resembling the Shirley character from Community. Yeah okay. The truer answer would have been Jeff Winger if not for my recent inability to lose myself in goings-on reported by my phone to properly express my disinterest in the group’s latest hijinks.)
“No,” was all I said to J. With that he pressed his back against the wall I had been leaning on and propped both feet up against the other in front of us. I watched him slowly shuffle his way up the buildings. Five feet above the glass shard covered concrete, he looked down at me and said, “Come on!”
“There are cops right there, in case you haven’t noticed. What if they see us?” Clearly I had started freaking out. I began rationalizing my way out of this situation. Silly me. Reason never quite worked on this boy.
I took my spot against the wall and followed. I slowly ascended closer and closer to our destination. Almost two stories up, I decided to look down. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I saw only a faded outline of light showing how far below the ground was. My body instantly locked up, and my heart stopped. Cold sweat broke through my pores like a tidal wave. My legs and shoulders started to ache, the bottoms of ill-equipped shoes started to lose traction, and my shirt kept getting caught on the brick. Worst of all, I suddenly became all too aware that fatigue was about to kick in if I didn’t hurry the hell up.
“C’mon!” J said, a hint of encouragement in his voice. Mostly, he was snapping me out of my fear to get me refocused on just climbing.
Let me teach you an invaluable lesson in life: breathing does wonders for the psyche. In karate, the most important lesson they teach us is how to breath properly. Breathe in through your nose, and out with your mouth. In that order, absolutely no substitutions. It clears the mind, calms the nerves, properly releases your desired strength, and helps you achieve deeper stretches. It’s so easy to forget to breathe while exerting yourself.
I took several calming breaths and managed to finish my climb to the top with ease. It was as soon as I landed in a safe place that my knees gave in to gravity. I slowly descended onto the tar covered rooftop. I didn’t care that my lower half was now covered in black smudges. I lived.
“So now that we’re up top,” J began after a few minutes of rest, “ready to start jumping roof-to-roof?”
I looked at him with such disdain. Then I spotted something behind him and praised every higher being in religious existence. “Sure,” I replied. I stood up, removed my hooded shirt to conceal my tar-covered bum (don’t worry, kiddies, I had the foresight to layer), and briskly walked past J. The back of the building, the one we had our backs against, was connected to a little parking garage. The topmost was fenced in to block out any drunk who could wander off of a ledge. The fence, thankfully, had a roof access gate for the building we were standing on. I made one little hop over to the little ledge, opened the gate and began walking for the nearest staircase.
Disclaimer…again: FOR ALL THAT IS HOLY AND SANE, DO NOT TRY THIS FOR YOURSELF. IT IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND I WAS LUCKY TO HAVE MADE IT UNSCATHED.