“Become one with the sky!” Bruce, the aeronaut, exclaimed as the multi-colored hot air balloon we were attached to vaulted off the ground. The sensation was akin to cresting the top of a Ferris wheel. Not quite the mind-blowing fear, hair flying adrenaline rush I anticipated.
I felt embarrassed for Bruce though he held our lives in his hands. He valiantly attempted an extroverted persona except his corny jokes and lame puns were painful to me. His job was to make the balloon ride spectacular for his passengers, I suspected he’d rather be flying alone.
The ride was a surprise for my husband, Greg’s, fortieth birthday. I don’t recall what possessed me to choose such a dangerous adventure. Not able to fly him off to Tuscany for a month, I settled for a two-hour balloon ride that included a weekend in a cowboy themed cabin with a hot tub in the middle of the living area and a bed suspended on tree trunks. Not Tuscany at all.
Sailing just above the tree tops I wasn’t afraid. I don’t know why. Acrophobia is at the top of the list of my phobias. I held Greg’s hand as we gingerly peered over the basket’s lip. The gondola was gigantic, unlike the two-person carrier Dorothy rode as she left Oz. Holding 14 passengers it was not the romantic excursion I had envisioned.
As we ascended, I felt a twinge of fear rising in my chest. I focused on positive thoughts, inhaled the fresh August air and admitted the view was remarkable. Northern Illinois rolling hills and farm land looked like encyclopedia photos of Ireland. Greg encircled me with his arms; I relaxed back into his chest as we glided through the air crossing this one off our bucket list.