Skip to main content

My Summer Vacation - The Up-To-Now Untold Story

To get to the pagoda, we had to march through a Chinese village. Our tour guide warned us to ignore the gauntlet of street peddlers and beggars, then he asked us to turn on our voice boxes so that he could lecture as we walked. I wasn’t feeling well, so I was already grumpy about the strenuous trek ahead.  

Thirty minutes later, we reached a long suspension bridge and beyond it was the pagoda. We all started across, and the more we jumped and stomped, the more it moved and swayed – not a good thing for those of us who suffer from vertigo and were already feeling queasy. I yelled at all the frolickers in my mean, teacher voice, and everyone made it to the opposite side a little more subdued.

Our guide rattled on about the wonders of the pagoda and how nowadays visitors approach via the bridge and the easy walkway, but the monks who once owned the well-protected fortress had to climb the rock face using only hand and toe holds.

According to legend, those who venture inside and attempt the many steps will achieve heaven.  He warned though that because of the heavy flow of tourist traffic, once we started up there would be no turning back and no slowing down; everyone had to move in one direction. 

Several of my fellow travelers sneaked peeks at me but avoided eye contact in case I yelled at them again. I could guess what they were thinking – maybe I should stay back and wait for the group by the suspension bridge.  

I don’t remember much about the guide’s lecture - gods, legends, blah-blah-blah – (I was concentrating on the formidable task before me), but I do remember the dark, the dampness, and the narrow, itty-bitty steps.  Heat, illness, claustrophobia, and my vertigo - I was in full panic mode, but no one calls me a coward. The steps got narrower, shorter (only the tips of my shoes fit on each rung), and more slippery the closer to heaven we got.

I. Was. In. Hell.

I ended up doing the last few landings on my hands and knees.  I didn’t cry but I think I cussed. (I know I was thinking it.) I don’t know if I imagined it or not, but someone used a shoulder and both hands on my rear a couple of times.  I hope it was HoneyBunch. I remember him talking to me and urging me on. God bless you, sweetheart.

I was so, SO happy when I hit sunshine at the top that I wanted to kiss everyone in sight (even the bridge bouncers), but I recovered some of my shredded dignity and resisted the impulse.  When it was time to head back (and my BP was quasi-normal again), I inched my way across the suspension bridge.  It was a breeze in comparison to what I had survived inside the pagoda.  

HoneyBunch keeps telling me that he was so proud that I persevered through my fears, and I tell him that the metaphor of the pagoda steps is not lost on me.

Many of us will reach heaven on our hands and knees, yelling and kicking all the way.  Though we are dependent on the kindness and urging of others, in the end we each have to achieve it on our own.


Popular posts from this blog

Happy Breastday to Me!

I gave myself a very special birthday present this year – I had surgery. Before you think it was to increase, decrease, or “lift” something, let me tell you it was not cosmetic (though I could probably use a few nips and tucks at my age; the infinite number of creams I buy OTC are not working their promised magic). About four or five months ago, I discovered a hard lump about the size of a large marble in my left armpit.  I had been feeling small pangs of pain in my left chest for several months, but I figured it was just my turn to dance with heart disease.  Everyone in my immediate family is diabetic and suffers from strokes or heart attacks, so I thought – here we go; my turn. I was going to tell my internist about the pangs during my next visit, so imagine my surprise when I discovered the lump. The Drama Queen in me immediately manifested herself – cancer, I thought.  I have cancer. I searched some more and found that the texture on the left side of my left breast felt diffe

Dating Challenged

I stink at dating – always have.   I sputter.   I hyperventilate.   I fail miserably every time. I blame a pathetically underdeveloped gene that got little use before I married in my early twenties, then atrophied, gathering dust and rust, until I became single again in my fifties.   I decided to use this defect to my advantage when I needed to do some investigative reporting a few years back.   While on a newspaper writing assignment on Boomer-aged dating, I sacrificed my dignity and my vanity for the sake of the story (and I got several). Thank goodness, HoneyBunch saved me from all this when we married.  (He comes up with the best dates.) I’ve decided I will “show you mine if you show me yours.”   I will swap dating horror stories with you, but you have to promise to play along. The trick here is to tell about your worst date in 25 words or less.   You must keep it clean and you cannot name names. Our little contest will run only this week and before my next blogger posting.   Me

Grandma’s Dining Table

Twenty five years ago my first husband and I bought a new home with four bedrooms and three baths, but my favorite part of the house was the enormous room you walked into from the front door. It had no dividing wall but the design was to use half of it as a formal living and the other half as a formal dining. From the beginning I decided to make it into one huge dining room that would catch the eye when everyone walked in through the front door of my home.   My three children were very young, but I envisioned them grown and married. We counted five at the time, but one day we would grow to eight, maybe more if we factored in grandchildren, so I bought a table that sat a family of twelve.  My husband thought it silly to look that far ahead and convinced me to buy only ten chairs. The room looked magnificent – the long, majestic table, the ten chairs, the buffet, a couple of real ficus, and a few other nice pieces of furniture – I was pleased. The table lasted longer than t