Why am I afraid of heights?

Well, our last photo shoot in the warehouse district didn’t go so well. Gatermann got some great shots, but the negatives ended up really hot and the processing lab didn’t know what to do with them, so the result was a bunch of washed-out pictures. The dark areas like the building and my black t-shirt ended up fine, but lighter areas, like, oh, my face, totally washed out.
So Tom Gatermann and I headed back out yesterday afternoon, with our buddy Tim Coleman tagging along. Tim provided comic relief; mostly at our expense. They found me a summer home–what looked like an abandoned ticket booth that was missing a door–and a couple of cars. One was an early eighties-something Oldsmobile with no tires. There was also a later-eighties GM car of some sort, smaller and front wheel-drive, also without tires. And there was an old Dodge van that had to have dated back to the late 70s. It had–honest–a Reagan ’84 bumper sticker on the back. On the other side it had a Bush ’88 bumper sticker. Tim noticed it first. I had to take a picture.

The warehouse district just seems to be the place to ditch a car that doesn’t run anymore and you don’t want to pay to tow away. Trust me–when you do, it doesn’t take long for people to start pillaging parts from it. You ditch your car, then the vultures swoop in and take anything usable from them. Strange system.

We ended up back at the old Cotton Belt Route Freight Depot. We explored that until about 8, then went off to get some dinner. Tim had told us about the place he was house-sitting. It’s an apartment on the 29th floor of The Gentry’s Landing, a high-rise downtown. It’s a corner apartment, with a great view of downtown and the Mississippi River. Open up the windows, and you can see it all. So after dinner we headed back there to check out how awful it is to be Tim these days. The view was every bit as spectacular as he said, and the windows were huge. I felt my fear of heights kick in when I stepped too close.

Out of curiosity, I looked the place up when I got home. Their apartment probably costs right around double what mine runs. Then again, it’s a whole lot bigger too.

Tom and I marveled at the view (Tom from right up against the window, me from the middle of the room), and then Tim said we ought to see it from the roof. So we headed up to the 29th floor, then took a flight of steps up onto the open roof. I proceeded–slowly–behind them. At one point Tim turned around. “We lost Dave. Oh,” then he looked my direction. I had trouble keeping up with them, and it wasn’t the soreness from the softball games. I hate heights. It’s weird, because I love airplanes, but get me high up in a building, or, worse yet, on the roof, and I go nuts.

Don’t get me wrong. It was nice. The breeze was fabulous up there, and the almost unobstructed view of St. Louis was great. From that distance, the Mississippi River is gorgeous. Turn your head and you see the Arch, I-70, the Trans World Dome… And it’s beautiful. Even I-70 is beautiful from that distance. I never knew an Interstate highway could be beautiful. I admired it all from the steps up to the main rail-enclosed platform. I looked around, all the while gripping the railing on the staircase, my hands dripping wet with cold sweat, my heart racing, and my legs tingling weirdly.

When Tom and Tim said, “Let’s go,” I didn’t argue. And somehow I moved a lot faster getting off the roof than I did getting on.

5 thoughts on “Why am I afraid of heights?

  • June 15, 2001 at 9:55 am
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    Sounds like a nice view–no, not the warehouse district, but of the city. Even though St. Louis tries to think like a "big city", it really is a small city with a good sized suburb.
    Regarding your fear of heights, I’m somewhat similiar in those feelings. I love being in a plane or harnessed in an amusement ride, or even looking down from the Arch, but looking down from a rooftop or a window where there’s the possibility of falling off…I’ve realized I’m not afraid of heights, but afraid of falling. Probably the same with everyone just like we’re all allergic to pain. 🙂

  • June 15, 2001 at 10:08 am
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    It really was a spectacular view. At night with all the light of the surround areas on, even Suaget (I think I spelled that right…) with it’s chemical plants looked beautiful.

  • June 15, 2001 at 12:30 pm
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    Actually there’s a certain beauty to the warehouse district too. Old buildings, no matter what their original intent, are just way cooler than today’s prefab junk.

    You’ve gotta be high up for Sauget, home of chemical plants and strip clubs, to look good, but 30 stories is pretty high.

    And Murel, my mom e-mailed me and told me that yes, my fear is of falling, not of heights. She said someone pushed me down the steps when I was 3 because I wasn’t moving fast enough for them and I’ve had that fear ever since. How’s that for logic? Push a kid down the steps because they don’t move fast enough, so that way they’ll never move fast on a staircase again.

  • June 15, 2001 at 1:54 pm
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    Well Dave, Tim and I were going to play good cop, bad cop with ya up there…

    Actually I’d have been a little nervous to being up so high if the viewing deck wouldn’t have had that lower roof top below us. I don’t like being in the open and looking over an edge, but that gave me a buffer zone, so it was cool.

    The warehouse district is a cool place. Warehouses don’t look like that now a days for sure. I mean, take the Cotton Belt Depot, who not a days would put ornate stone carved symbols on their warehouse?

  • June 15, 2001 at 5:08 pm
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    Thank you, Dave, for facing your fear of heights and sharing your excellent birds-eye-view description of the city with someone who will probably never be able to have the experience of seeing it from that vantage point.

    P.S. Please share some more of your thoughts and views on Christianity, Dave, because, if only a single seed of the word can stimulate the faith of one, it can stimulate the faith of millions.

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