By Chase Hollander, grade 8
My hands were grasping the seat as my heart beat intensely and quickly. The passengers were sedate and collected as we were about to begin to take lift off.
An announcement suddenly blared through the speaker: “Hello, everyone! Welcome to Frontier Airlines for your flight to Seattle, Washington. Please put your seat belt on, and enjoy this four-hour flight. Thank you for choosing Frontier Airlines!”
At last, the airplane began to propel forward, and as the plane rose, my stomach dropped to the floor. I haven’t been on a plane in forever.
Soon, a voice next to me asked, “Are you hungry, Chase? You didn’t eat much before you came. You can ask the attendants, and also, if you want, you can watch a movie.”
“Okay, Mom, anything to pass the time. I can’t wait to see my aunt and uncle again.”
“Me, too,” Mom responded.
I requested orange juice and peanuts as the unfamiliar faces aboard the plane were either already zoning out or talking about their upcoming arrival. I also began to see darkness as my closing eyes lost sight. My ears ignored the outside conversations, and my hands relaxed for the first time.
Suddenly, I awoke to the pilot announcing our arrival within a couple of minutes. I ignored my tired eyes and was preparing and practicing what to say to my family members. I only see them once or twice a year, and we do so much together. What do I say? The airplane suddenly stopped when I was zoned out with my thoughts in a pensive state. I examined my fellow passengers and tried to conclude what others were going to do once they left the airport. Quickly, Mom and I gathered our bags and paced our feet in a forward motion out of the airplane. We then took the train to our destination inside the airport.
When the doors slid open, we slipped through in a nonchalant manner out of the train. A group of others followed our lead out in a tired way. Instantly, I spotted my aunt and uncle glancing at us and grinning. Mom and I walked quickly to them just as the other citizens did for loved ones. We exchanged loud greetings, and they were amazed at my height difference since last year. We then exchanged words about all that had been happening and shared laughs once again. It was already beginning to look like a great time. We skipped elatedly into their car and drove back to their house, passing the extravagant buildings, giant companies, and friendly people. When we arrived, I noticed the hosts had a whole board of planned activities we would do during our time there. Due to the time difference, we began to go to bed. My aunt set up a nice, cozy place on the couch for me. Z’s started to occur until the light of my eyes went blank.
I awoke with the bright morning sunrays glancing upon my face. I soon realized everyone else was up, and we began our tour of Seattle. My family’s main objective during this trip was for me to conquer my fear of heights. It was a fear that had always had an effect on me. It was one of my greatest fears and always will be. My aunt already had a solution for this, I would soon realize. On the agenda, we visited many places. Some of them included a giant statue of a troll with great architectural creativity, a beautiful garden with many beautiful sights and plants, and even order-your-food movie theaters. But that’s not what had led to change me the most. The Space Needle was a great challenge for my heights test. My aunt had planned this purposely and hoped it would work. As the rays of sun glistened upon the building’s magnificent glass, we climbed up the stairs of this grand piece of work. My adrenaline was kicking in, and I was nervous beyond measure as we entered the elevator to the top floor. When we heard the ding, we left the elevator. The edge of the Needle was feet away. I started off looking from a couple of feet away from the elevator. Eventually, I was slowly moving as my hands trembled and my lips were still. The others were waiting for me to make my move, so I decided to pretend not to be frightened and move towards the glass like a confident person who was not scared of anything. When I was up there, a couple of feet away, I was thinking the world would end and I wasn’t going to make it back home, but I lasted for minutes there. The only way I lasted so long was because of the pretty view of the city. I was noticing the tiny details of the progress earth made. I saw a couple of birds, tiny cars, lavish grass and trees, and a speck of people. This was the only way I could stand so close to the edge. Sometimes I faded off the view towards the drop and then realized how small everything was. Overall, I was still nervous. I was making progress towards being comfortable with it, but I never could reach the edge, for my heart rate would increase, and my stomach would feel weird.
We stayed for a decent 15 minutes and decided to traverse down. We then headed towards the parking lot, and my aunt drove us down into some weird building. There was a bunch of helicopters and other vehicles. I was very uncertain of what we were doing here. Soon, my aunt discussed some words with a worker there and gestured us to follow, so I began one foot after another in a normal and orderly fashion outside. At that moment, I finally began to realize what would happen: It was a day I would never forget. It turns out that the worker was a pilot. I changed from a perplexed look into an amazed one as the vehicle was in front of us. At first, I was like no way, but since my family did this for me, I surged forward. As I entered, I was becoming more nervous when the pilot gave us headphones; I then realized this was the real stuff, and my fear was up to another test. I averted my eyes around to become familiar with this machine and saw a glass panel below me. This was going to be a huge problem. I could see how far up I was from everywhere I looked. Slowly, as the pilot took control, I could hear the rotor blades spin extremely fast, even through my headphones. At last, we lifted off in this small flying device hundreds of feet into the air. I may have closed my eyes at first or even tried to think of something else—I can’t deny that—but since the Space Needle, I was more collected and decided to work on staring at the amazing scenic views instead of focusing on what I was scared of. This great experience is a one-of-a-kind thing that will be an ingrained memory in my mind forever.
After the helicopter ride, my aunt told me, “And you said you were afraid of heights.”
I grinned when she said that and will remember her very own words for as long as I can. Eventually, my fear of heights was a comedic story. It was a joke because I realized it was all mental. Later on, we decided to head back to the house to rest up. I wondered what would happen tomorrow.
Over these years, I have come to understand and decipher something. The only thing stronger than fear and disbelief is hope. Hope is the single strongest thing and is an important attribute that will decide the fate of human life. I now understand how my family persuaded me to face something that makes me uncomfortable and frightened and realized they were right to do this. I learned to believe there is no impossible in life and that effort is the key to success. I will never have a lot of doubt in my life anymore—but always, always more hope.