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Leeking Ink #29 COVER Leeking Ink #29 Table of Contents
I’ve Learned to Love the Pigeon
The Glovebox Chronicles Revisited
Lost and Found
John Waters’s Baltimore
Past Imperfect
23 Feet from Bliss

23 Feet from Bliss

There is nothing so natural, yet unnatural, about soaring 23 feet off the ground on a trapeze. I would have thought this a ridiculous statement too, if I hadn’t spent a warm summer evening flying through the air…well…with the greatest of ease. In July 2004, the Trapeze School New YorkÔ opened a school in Baltimore, nestled between the Visionary Art Museum and the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

The masses were being given an opportunity to live once vicarious childhood dreams, as well as exorcise fears of heights and other psychological barriers. Personally, I have daydreams of one day being a rubber girl and a sideshow tent to call my own.

Fellow editor William P. and I arrived for the 6pm class, which was filled with about 8 other people, mostly women. We signed our wavers and went to the practice bar on the ground with owner and instructor Brian McVicker. We each took turns grabbing the bar, lifting our feet, tucking our knees over the bar, releasing and stretching our arms out for the imagined catch, and returning to a standing position. Then we learned the command, “hep,” which indicates when we are to leave the platform. We also had a safety talk and learned very quickly that students must pay attention and listen at all times. Within a matter of minutes we were ready to learn to fly.

I was first in line and attached the safety lines to my harness. I scaled the ladder with ease and my safety lines were switched to lines attached to the rig. Scout, the instructor on the platform, grabbed my safety belt and instructed me to push my hips out over the edge and grab the dangling bar. Much like my first time snorkeling a deep reef, I was scared for a moment, went through the fear and took the plunge. I grabbed the bar, leaned over the edge, someone yelled hep and I was airborne. I tucked my knees over the bar, released my hands, arched my back, returned my hands to the bar and dismounted onto the net. It was exhilarating. My body seemed to know what to do instinctually. We practiced the knee swing a few more times and Brian singled out who was ready for the next step – catching. We would be doing the knee swing into his arms. Timing was everything.

After reviewing what good hands (catchable hands) were, we chalked our arms and returned to the rotation. I nailed it both times. One of the instructors looked at me and asked, “Okay, dancer, gymnast, or diver?” None of the above. In fact, in the interest of full disclosure, I basically spent all of my school-aged years in remedial PE. My lowest grade in college was a tennis class and I was carried out of my other gym requirement on a stretcher when I fell running in place. I have been taking yoga for about 6 months, but that’s it.

In trapeze, there is no thinking; there is just doing and being. When thoughts creped in, they hindered me. As long as I emptied my mind and listened to the commands, I flew like it was something I was born to do. It was one of the best examples of being in the moment I had ever experienced.

The tagline for the school is Forget Fear. Worry about the addiction. They are right. I left wondering how I could convince my friends and family to underwrite my latest obsession.

If you are interesting in an experience you won’t soon forget, visit baltimore.trapezeschool.com or call (410) 459-6839. Classes run Wednesday through Sunday at 9:00-11:00am, 3:30-5:30pm, and 6:00-8:00pm (the evening classes offer a great view of sunset near the Inner Harbor, too) and cost between $40 and $65 for a two hour class depending on the day and time. The school will be closing in November for the winter season and hopes to reopen in April 2005.

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