Our science teacher, Mr. Carroll, was one of the coolest teachers in the entire school. I attended high school, 4 years, and graduated in 1994 from Pulaski County High School, Dublin, Virginia.
My senior year, the beginning of spring was cold for this area. We all still recall the BLIZZARD OF ‘94. I remember because it first caused me to get snowed in up here on the mountainside I reside at. Parrott, Virginia is literally a mountain. I missed a concert I had waited months to go to. My unused tickets remain in my scrapbook. It was Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Daniels Band, and I forget the other.
When spring hit, everyone in this small county of Pulaski, had cabin fever. Mr. Carroll was allowed to take 5 students every year rock climbing. He had been a rock climbing instructor. I was never actually assigned to his class. However, 3 of my close friends were, so Mr. Carroll seen me more than some of his students. I enjoyed science being taught by him. When it came time to choose, one student’s parents refused to sign the release form. This left one opening and after much begging and pleading, my best friend, Brandy and I convinced him I should get to go.
The second reason the beginning of 1994 is planted in my memory isn’t as simple as missing a concert. My grandparents raised me and my grandfather was a hero to me. He suffered a stroke one morning as soon as I had left to go to school, the autumn of my senior year, 1993. I was going through a lot. Mr. Carroll being an adult talked to me a lot about how I was feeling and how I was rebelling in school, though I had always maintained good grades since kindergarten. My friends were all going to homecoming dances, prom, partying because, well, it was our senior year and would soon be over.
Actually, the 3rd event that causes me to remember the beginning of that year, was because come graduation time, we were scheduled to graduated the last week of May. Our graduation ceremony didn’t happen until July 1994, due to so many snow days.
My grandmother was busy taking care of my grandfather because she would have said ‘no’. She had a lot on her mind too. So, Mr. Carroll drives Brandy, myself, a friend, Mike, and two other boys whom I cannot recall their names. We went to Stone Mountain in N.C. where the highest climbing side was a bit over 600 feet. Looking up at it, I almost wished I hadn’t begged to go. One problem was there were only 1 pair of rock climbing shoes left for me. Even though, to this day, Brandy’s feet aren’t as wide as mine, we both just have the same length, she wouldn’t trade with me. Mr. Carroll was strict about safety and rules, so if the shoes didn’t fit, I wasn’t going to be able to go. Therefore, my size 7 foot magically became a size 6. Painful indeed.
Butterflies were filling up my nerves, and I was already suffering from anxiety attacks, though I didn’t understand then what was happening. Needless to say, by the time we were harnessed in and ready to begin, I felt almost ill.
It took a lot of work. Very hot in N.C. compared to home, and then being on a steep flat rock, we were all tired and sweaty before we reached our halfway mark and got to sit and take in the gorgeous view. 300 ft was scary. I was shaky from holding myself up. My feet were absolutely killing me. Which at 17 years old, I dealt with it. Now at the age of 36, I’m not sure if I would or not. Probably, depending on how badly I wanted to do something.
I am happy to say all of us made it the entire way up and Mr. Carroll took some amazing photos that were in the yearbook. He also gave us all copies. This was the days of no photo C.D’s handed out. lol
Although, I was scared, nervous, and in pain, as soon as we sit on top of Stone Mountain, it felt like we were sitting on clouds. I’m glad Mr. Carroll gave me the opportunity to be able to do something that exciting in high school, and also, that April, before I graduated, my grandfather passed away. Had it not been for this one memory so grand of my senior year, the best year of my life, would have most definitely been the worst year of school ever.
I absolutely would love to go rock climbing again. Mr. Carroll had traveled everywhere and climbed higher mountains than that one.
Speaking of doing that again, we are taking my two daughters to Pigeon Forge in September. We were there last June, 2012. They have zip lines in the Smokey Mountains and they look so terrifying and so perfect, that I have talked my friend in to doing it with me. Yay. I can tell everyone, this sounds crazy, but I don’t like heights at all. At the fair just last month, I dreaded the ferris wheel with my 7 year old. I hate the way they stop on top. The wind is already rocking the seat. Of course, at 7 years old she wants to look around and to me, she’s going to flip us over at any moment. Though, I know the way the ferris wheels are set up now, she couldn’t really flip us, but I’m in panic mode anyway.
So, what do I do with this anxious feeling of dread when something includes heights? Well, I plan on riding the new ferris wheel Pigeon Forge added on this past June. It’s 200 feet up, so everyone can get a grand view of those mountains. I’ll be up there too, trying to inhale through my nose, exhale through my mouth, and focus on a happy place. :) 16 months ago