So you’re moving across the roof of the 11-story Marriott hotel with a girl in a Wonder Woman costume and a ninja named Oz when all of a sudden you’re passed off to the final expert in a long line of experts prepping you for your journey over the edge of the building.
She’s just told you her name, this final expert, but you’ve already forgotten it because – well, you’ve just been told a lot of really important stuff and honestly, her name just doesn’t matter right now, although it should, because right now, up on the roof, it’s just you and her and you can tell that in spite of the cool indifference you’re trying to pull off, she knows your legs are rubbery and your heart is racing and you really, really don’t want to step out onto that ledge anymore.
But that’s what she’s asked you to do, to step out onto the ledge, the very edge of the building, and it’s tough to do because the horizon is so far below you it’s hard to keep your balance and there’s no railings to hold on to. There’s nothing there but the ropes and the scaffolding and then she tells you to shuffle back until your heels are over the edge. Your heels…over the edge. And now, dammit, you really are scared, dammit, and you’re embarrassed by it now because it’s the real thing. You’re not apprehensive about the unknown like you were just a few moments ago, you’re scared by the certainty of what’s happening right now.
But your fear – it’s okay. This woman whose name you’ve already forgotten is smiling at you, telling you it’s okay. Telling you to look at her if you have to. To focus on her as you back ever closer to the inevitable.
You’re sharing something, you and her. Something special and pure and good. It’s an extreme intimacy because what you’re showing her – this fear – isn’t easy to show. You’re happily married, but at this moment there is no woman more beautiful in the world, and you would do anything for her. If only you could remember her name.
You’re holding onto the rope above you with your left hand and the rope behind you with your right, just like they do in the movies, and she’s asking you to extend your legs. To let yourself hang over the edge. And you do it. Because she asked you to, you do it. And because of the physics of it all – the ropes and harness and the distribution of the weight – it actually works. You can hold the rope and lean out, just like in the old Nestea commercials, frozen in mid-plunge. It’s a victory and you’re proud.
But it’s not over. There is more she wants you to do.
This time what she’s asking of you is so difficult and so unnatural that she doesn’t trust the bond you have, strong as it is. She doesn’t gamble that your devotion to her is enough for you to do this one last monumental thing. So she employes a distraction, a woman who’s up there on the roof with you. She asks you to pose for this woman’s camera. To give her a thumbs up.
Two thumbs up.
Even though you realize it’s a diversion, a trick to get you to submit completely, to give yourself to the wall, it’s okay because her smile is so warm and affirming. It’s okay because she’s the one who is asking and you would do anything for her. Even this.
And so you do it. Two thumbs up, baby. Your butt’s hanging over the edge, your hands are in the air and right now, this instant, you can do anything. Not just up on the wall – anywhere. Anything.
You move your feet from the edge of the building to the side of the building. That’s a big deal. You operate the lever that lowers you and you slowly walk yourself down the building. After about a floor, you can even look around – right to the river, left to Broad Street. The view is spectacular.
Somewhere down the side, as you notice that the view is also reflected in the windows to either side of you and that the rooms are actually occupied, something else becomes clear.
Up there, on the edge, you did what you did for her, but now that you’ve moved down the building and she’s gone – up there – you realize it wasn’t really for her after all, it was because of her, and that’s a powerful realization. Though you regret you won’t be able to thank her – what is life but a series of one-way journeys, a string of edges to go over? – you also understand that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. In the spirit of true intimacy, the gift she gave you wasn’t her, it was you, and you will always cherish her for that.
If only you could remember her name.
Over the Edge is a special events company that helps nonprofits like Augusta’s Ronald McDonald House raise money. Here in Augusta, over 60 people raised $1,000 a piece for the opportunity to go over the edge of the Marriott today. The money goes toward the construction of the new $6 million Ronald McDonald House, which will open in January on the campus of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
Spots are still available. Call Sean Frantom at (706) 724-5901 for details. Or just come down to the Marriott to cheer the folks over the edge.
And though you probably won’t see her from down on the ground, the girl up there who makes it all possible – her name is Rebecca.