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Getting Your Footing

I love climbing trees and, as a child, there was no tree I loved climbing more than the one at the intersection of my next door neighbor and childhood best friend’s home and my own. If we weren’t racing each other on bikes or exploring the woods, we were hanging from the tree talking about the new adventures we might embark on later that afternoon.


In first or second grade, I got glasses—an absolute necessity for a child whose most frequent word to that point was “Where?” I sat at the eye doctors, feet dangling from a chair two sizes too big while the optometrist told me I shouldn’t hang upside down or do any trampoline flips with my glasses on because they might fall or break.


My glasses were Rocket Power themed, with little skateboards that moved on the sides. I loved them and, more important, I loved how clear they made the world. And still, I cried the entire car ride home.


You see, the best way to get into our “climbing tree” was to wrap your hands around the low branch, swing your legs up, and then muscle yourself from the flip to an upright position. But I had glasses now. And surely, I couldn’t climb the tree anymore.


Later that day, I slumped to my neighbor’s and told him the terrible news. I couldn’t climb trees anymore. He listened patiently, and then, pointed out that I knew that tree well enough to climb it blindfolded. And he said he’d hold my glasses.


Thus the ritual began. I’d hand him my glasses and get up to the first branch. He’d hand them back and climb up himself. We’d settle into our spots and discuss how many ladders we’d need to reach the first branch of the mammoth “million year old” oak tree in his backyard. Like nothing had changed.


There are people here who want to hold your glasses. We know you can climb the tree. But it might be a little safer if you let them hold your glasses for a few seconds first. Just long enough until you can get into the tree. You can take it from there.