So. Guess who moved up the departure time for the field trip to Tokyo SkyTree today and didn’t tell me?
I actually arrived at school to a charming display of the lower grades singing so I hung out watching for awhile, then headed upstairs to the kids’ room to meet the pack. Instead I was met with emptiness and a sign on the board that said “meet Wednesday at 8” so I toddled back down to the teacher’s room to investigate.
“Oh, no one told? Ha ha ha! You. Follow them.”
He made a phone call to try to figure things out. “You meet, 10:30.”
I thought an hour and a half seemed like a long time to give me to get somewhere in the same city, but he stood over my desk staring at me with this map until I left:
It did in fact take the full 90 minutes, so upon arrival, I immediately started straining for the yellow flag that I thought was unique to our group. After I spotted nine or so, however, in the twenty minutes I waited, it was time for the executive decision to eat the admission fee and just ascend the damn thing myself.
Twenty dollars later, I found myself shooting skyward at slightly over 22 miles per hour. Then 1,148 feet above sea level, I emerged from the elevator, ears a-popping, to face my fear of heights yet again.
Okay, the Tokyo SkyTree- tallest tower in the world- is an absolutely insane feat of engineering that, from ground level, looks like this:
It actually rises a few hundred feet above where I stopped, too, but there were clouds today and apparently you couldn’t see through them to the ground, so I aborted that mission at the first stop, unwilling to part with additional yennage.
And it was still completely unbelievable.
Just walking out of the elevator felt different. I couldn’t look down without swaying, and was reminded of my favorite quote about vertigo- Douglas Adams, of course:
“I’ve heard an idea proposed, I’ve no idea how seriously, to account for the sensation of vertigo. It’s an idea that I instinctively like and it goes like this. The dizzy sensation we experience when standing in high places is not simply a fear of falling. It’s often the case that the only thing likely to make us fall is the actual dizziness itself, so it is, at best, an extremely irrational, even self-fulfilling fear. However, in the distant past of our evolutionary journey toward our current state, we lived in trees. We leapt from tree to tree. There are even those who speculate that we may have something birdlike in our ancestral line. In which case, there may be some part of our mind that, when confronted with a void, expects to be able to leap out into it and even urges us to do so. So what you end up with is a conflict between a primitive, atavistic part of your mind which is saying “Jump!” and the more modern, rational part of your mind which is saying, “For Christ’s sake, don’t!”
I was definitely feeling it. Gravity, that bitch, was getting the best of me. It was weird, actually, how tangible physics all of a sudden seemed; my feet felt physically sucked toward the ground and my brain was fighting and flighting all over the place, but with nowhere logical to land.
There was a glass bottom on part of the floor, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so logically sure I was safe but whole-body frightened nonetheless. When you’re standing over a void 110 stories in the air, there’s just no active memory for the brain to grip ahold of and respond accordingly. It’s just, “I’m high!” competing with “s’okay”, and it’s bizarre. And honestly, pretty awesome.
It was noonish when I decided I was done being astounded, so I found a lovely Indian place with curry and naan and sat happily, filled with the sweet pleasures of independence and having been forgotten. And I hate to be superficial- all I really require in a waiter is competence and a smile- but this tall, young Indian was dashing and rakish and I liked it.
Satisfactory, all around.
Unfortunately it ended there. Due to my sense of direction- or rather lack of one- it took three hours, four trains, and a two mile walk to get back to school, at which point they laughed at my expensive misadventure and assigned me to two hours of seat time with Candy Crush and couple of 20-year-old Burmese guidebooks.
I had to put those down rather quickly, too, because they were pretty convincing about how much malaria and AIDS I’m going to get while eating maggots and avoiding insurrection. I don’t know if I want to go to Burma anymore…
I’m excited for Thai beaches, though! My shirt o’the day read “Captain Fun Club” and it’s a title I plan to wear with gusto.
Now accepting applications.