Friday, November 5, 2010

Lessons from the Rooftop

Sunday afternoon I got stuck on my roof.

It was one of those moments when I realized just how much like my father I am and also, how resourceful.

Here's how it happened. It was a beautiful day and my gutters were overflowing with bright autumn leaves. So, while Tessa Gratton was ensconced on the sofa writing like made with earbuds shoved into her head, I grabbed the ladder and headed around to the back of the house. (This would be the farthest point from her because I had some idea of what I was preparing to do and that she wouldn't approve). I picked a sturdy spot on the new deck and set the 6' ladder to stun.

There were warning signs, of course. First, there was the fact that I was alone and the neighborhood was eerily quiet. And then there was the bright green covering on the very top of the ladder imprinted with the words: NOT A STEP. And there was the precarious tipping of the ladder as I used the not a step to leverage myself onto the roof.

But they felt more like suggestions. I was full of my CAN DO attitude and just like that, I was on the roof.

It was when it came time for getting off of the roof that I started to doubt myself. The ladder was useless and I realized that the NOT A STEP wasn't joking. If I tried it, the not a step itself would wrap itself around my calf and fling me to the ground somewhere in my neighbor's back yard.

So there I was, trapped on my roof with the only person around happily plugging away at her novel with earbuds in.

Grendel was with me, but all he did was bark incessantly, "Jump! Jump! Jump! Jumpjumpjump!"

I considered it, but breaking my ankle on my brand new deck seemed too cliche. I eyed the limbs of the Maple tree and imagined swinging my way to the trunk, but I've seen too many America's Funniest Videos for that. So, I sat and listened to my quite neighborhood and pondered.

I didn't panic. And I think it was because I knew I would get down, it was just a question of how much getting down was going to hurt. It's probably also because this sort of situation isn't atypical for me. I don't know when it started (in utero?), but I do seem to have a fierce love for high pressure situations.

Other rooftops I'm stuck on at them moment include the recently ramped up schedule of Tangled Fiction, the final months of the Cello Project, polishing the wip for submission, 2 thousand Scorpio birthdays (seriously, I am surrounded by them), and the day job I love.

I think I actually missed the green no step several months ago.

But what I've learned is that if I were to pay attention to all of those warning signs, not only would I miss a spectacular view, I would have missed out on doing all of these new things.

I would still be on the ground wondering.

So, you might be wondering how I eventually got back down to the ground. I think I'm not going to tell you. I think I'll just say that I didn't jump and I didn't use the Maple tree and I didn't call for Tess. I used my wits, I trusted my strength, and it didn't hurt a bit.


  1. Signs are there to warn you and not to be ignored! At least now you’ve learned your lesson. Anyway, were you able to remove the autumn leaves stuck in your roof? I’m curious too as how you were able to come back down. Haha!

    -Kip Whitehead

    1. It was a feat of acrobatics involving my pergola. ;) And yes, the leaves were soundly ousted!