A few months ago Yohannes and I went to the Bahamas for a work conference. I was especially excited, because the last time he went, the conference was on a Caribbean cruise and I didn’t get to go.
It was a four day trip and we left the kids with my parents [insert lots of anxiety here]. The longest I’d ever been away from them was overnight, so this was huge. Aside from the almost $200 we accidentally spent on international phone calls (read ALL the instructions on the phone card!), and a whole lot of mom-guilt, it went very well.
On the first day of the conference, I went back to our room shortly before the keynote speaker began his address. Yohannes stayed. I heard later that the speaker was quite good, but I think I’m generally too cynical to appreciate a good motivational speech, and I didn’t want my uncontrollable tendency to whisper snarky comments to diminish anyone else’s enjoyment. (“Achieve World Peace In 10 Easy Steps.” How conveniently simple.)
I decided to get a little fresh air from the balcony in our 7th floor room. Why I did what I did next, I can’t explain — perhaps it was some primitive instinct to break free from the cage-like confines of the balcony — but I slipped one leg through the bars as I leaned over the rail to take in the view of the ocean on the horizon.
It wasn’t until I was ready to go back inside that I came to the horrifying discovery that I couldn’t get my leg back out. I tried twisting, turning, and pulling, but no matter what I did, my knee would not come back through the bars. My mind started running a hundred miles an hour considering possible scenarios. I could see some people lounging outside several floors below, but I couldn’t bring myself to shout down to perfect strangers that I had shackled myself to the balcony. Could I just wait for Yohannes to get back? The keynote address wouldn’t be finished for over an hour. And what would happen when he arrived? Would he have to call someone to cut the bars of the balcony to get my leg out? I could just imagine managers and workers flooding the room…perhaps a small crowd of spectators on the ground bellow. Maybe they would kick us out of the hotel. People would be talking about it for years to come.
In the end, the (imagined) humiliation was more than I could bear. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and pulled with all my might, and eventually my knee popped back through the bars. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with just a ridiculously melodramatic imagination, pathological shyness and brute force.