by Jamie Schler
I am terrified of heights. Put me on the top floor of a building looking down through glass panes or, worse yet, from the edge of a balcony, and my knees buckle as I grasp for a handhold. My heart pounds at the idea of funiculars or Ferris wheels and their anticipatory crawl up into the clouds. That glance down comes with the fear of knowing that when I finally reach the summit I will be staring into emptiness, a deep void, an near-endless drop only broken by the tiny ant-like beings down on safe, sturdy ground staring up at me, ogling, daring me to make the leap so they can break my fall.
Roller Coasters slowly, painfully inching their way up until a mere thread is holding me over a dizzying descent make my head spin as my breath comes out, barely, in short, quick gasps. Airplanes, those silver boxes offering me quick passage to my loved ones, have me in a panic when I think of the nothingness holding them up. My very pragmatic, scientific husband refers to this seemingly (or so he says) irrational fear of heights as Cosmic Vertigo, these images in my overactive imagination of climbing up and standing on the edge of a precipice only to be pushed off of solid ground and plunging into emptiness, the unknown. So I never climb onto a Ferris wheel, it is impossible to convince me to climb aboard a roller coaster; as we spin our way up the glass elevator in the Mole Antonelliana in Torino or wander around the top balcony of the Eiffel Tower my eyes stay firmly squeezed shut and I can’t even look through the eyepiece of a telescope, nor am I comfortable wearing 3-D glasses or watching the world spin on Google maps. Yes, I am terrified of heights.
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Jamie Schler is a freelance writer specializing in food, family and culture, an American living in Europe for 25 years, a food-passionate expat fully immersed in French (and Italian) culture. She is an experienced instructor, mentor and speaker.
Her freelance writing is centered on food and culture, travel and heritage, chefs and producers, culinary news and dishes, yet always focuses on the people, the traditions and the stories hidden behind.
She recounts her childhood in Florida, her passion for food, books and writing, her marriage to a Frenchman and the raising of their multicultural children as well as her adventures on both continents on Life’s a Feast. Her writing is infused with the sensations, emotions and memories that food, people and traditions inspire.
She now calls Nantes, France, her home.