When we made plans to visit the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey with our daughter, Nancy, and her two daughters, I never expected to be walking along a steel girder 18 feet in the air as part of the "Skyscraper!" exhibit. Nina, age 7, didn't quite make the height guidelines' minimum of four feet tall. (Maximum height is 6'8" and maximum weight 300 pounds -- not a problem for any of us.) But the rest of us did, and with the encouragement and inspiration of Anna, 15, Opa (i.e., Grandpa) and I lined up along with her, got strapped into our safety harnesses (just like the kind real construction workers wear), and walked the narrow beam. Even though I knew we couldn't fall because of the harness and the rope we were holding, it was a little scary looking down and realizing we were walking along a very narrow walkway, very high up.
When I expressed some hesitation to Anna, she said, "Well, you went bungy jumping!" And so we did, a year ago in Queenstown, New Zealand, the bungy capital of the world. But that moment of terror just lasted a couple of seconds at the jumping-off moment, until I was caught by the bungy cord. This time it lasted for the several minutes it took to walk the beam, get the rope unstuck from the corners, and finally find solid ground again. Anna scooted right along on the beam -- I was glad she went first, so even though I was slower, with a more measured walk, I knew I could do it -- and knew I had to, for my granddaughters' sake!
It was an educational experience, too, since much about the exhibit gave some fascinating facts -- like the fact that Mohawk Indians still are among the largest ethnic group of workers who labor high above New York and other big, skyscraper-rich cities. It was educational for the museum workers too. One of the young men who helped us harness up said, "I like to see older couples like you do this -- gives me hope for my future!"
Virtual Book Tour with Karyn L. Freedman
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