Filet de Sécurité

“I want to do that!” I shout.

I am walking with a friend on the South edge of Belmont Harbor. Its after sunset, but the giant trapeze rig is fully illuminated. My friend and I watch as a man jumps from the platform, does some flips and falls into the net.

“Oh I could definitely do that!” I repeat, but my friend is skeptical.

“Thats 25 feet in the air, aren’t you terrified of heights?”

He is right. I’ve been paralyzed with fear on fire escapes and catwalks. Being inside tall buildings is fine, but when I feel exposed or vulnerable to a fall, I freeze. If I have a bad dream, I am usually falling. For years I never rode roller coasters, it seemed to be the stuff of nightmares.

So with a well-documented history of hating heights and falling, why am I ready to scurry up that skinny ladder and jump? We continue walking on the lake path, but my thoughts stay with the trapeze and my urge swing. It wasn’t until a few days later I understood.

This past weekend my wonderful girlfriends threw my a going away party. It began with an early dinner at The Dawson, just the girls, then finished with a big party at Lotties Pub in Bucktown. Next Saturday my Aunt is throwing a party for some of the cousins who will be moving away from Chicago, myself included. My big, loud, wonderful Irish Catholic will all gather to celebrate our new chapters.

I am so touched by friends and family who have reached out to wish me luck before I go. I’ve had few people pull me aside and assure me that if things go wrong, they will find a way to get me home. I don’t anticipate any trouble on that scale, but its nice to know people back home have my back.

Then it hits me. I’ve got a safety net. A big old, lovely, warm, squishy safety net. Thats why the trapeze isn’t scary, even if you fall, you’ll be just fine. In fact you’re supposed to fall, how else can you get down?

My safety net is woven with the love and support of my friends and family. I feel very lucky and very small when I think of it. Moving to France is certainly not a heroic act, but any big life change can be intimidating.

I’m not scared, I’ve got a net.

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