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02/19/01 (Page Two)
More from Tracy...


Itís time to backtrack and do a little explaining about the past.When Omar and I were teenagers, we were both convinced it was our destiny to be writers; he became one and as for me, well, I got lost along the way. There are two things I fervently believe about writing:Writers are born with this strange compulsion to write and that above anything else a writer must always tell the truth.For several black years I couldnít bear the truth and so I didnít write and so I was miserable and so the truth became even harder to take.

Omar and I lost touch during those miserable years until one day on a whim I typed his name into Alta Vista and to my delight found him again.I was ashamed that I was no longer writing, since he was the one Iíd shared my dreams with back when I dared to have them, but I put that aside and e-mailed him.He encouraged me to start writing again, and I made several half-hearted attempts, but something was missing.The truth.And because of this everything I wrote was flat and lifeless.

Now here I was, walking through the Altstadt of Heidelberg, miserable and ecstatic at the same time.There was a queer sort of excitement coursing through my veins; an eagerness to live despite the mess my life was in.

As I made my way down to my destination, I thought of a friend of mine named Thomas whom I admire in a way thatís not quite seemly for a grown woman.Sort of a big brother, hero-worship kind of deal; to me he is perfect and I hang on his every word.I had run to Hamburg to visit him during a particularly difficult time in my marriage.We had a great time going to the carnival, seeing the sights and drinking more than was good for us.When I left on Sunday night, he escorted me to the subway station and right before my train left he told me something that haunted me for a good many months.As we were hugging our goodbyes, he looked at me and said ďTater (thatís what he calls me) youíve got to face reality.Ē

It took several months, but when I finally did I wanted to run to Hamburg and kiss him and say, ďThomas, you were absolutely right!ĒSince itís a long way to Hamburg, I did the next best thing; something that I knew would make him proud.

In the Altstadt there is a church called the Heileggeistkirche, or Church of the Holy Ghost.As far as old European churches go, itís nothing special, but one can pay a Mark and climb up to the tower and get a gorgeous view of the town and Neckar Valley.

Now, I am famously scared of heights.My knees buckle and I break out in a cold sweat and plan my funeral.When Thomas and I first met, in Copenhagen, we went to Vor Frelsers Kirke (Our Saviorís Church) and to avoid looking like the coward I was, I agreed to go up to the top of the spire with the group.I did okay until we got to the part where you leave the (relatively) comfortable confines of the church and go out and climb the golden staircase that spirals along the outside of the spire.Couldnít do it, and I had to turn back much to my shame.

Despite my worship, Thomas is no saint, and Iíve had to endure some gentle ribbing about my fear.Heís the daring sort that rides a Ducatti and climbs rocks, so he finds it amusing that a little thing like stairs can get me into such a tizzy.

So, I went into the Church to confront my fears and make Thomas proud.Before starting my ascent, I lit a candle and sat for a while to gather my strength.Then I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath and went.

I would like to say that I was not afraid, but I was.My stomach was ice and my legs unsteady.With each step, my fear grew and I was convinced that I would go mad with terror and throw myself down to my death.There was no one to rescue me or reassure me; I was totally alone.Each step taken was an act of sheer will, but I could hear Thomasís words in my head ďTater, youíve got to face reality.ĒAnd I realized that avoiding reality isnít just making things seem better than they are; sometimes itís making things worse than they are.

Reality it that I would not panic and throw myself to my death; reality is that I have two strong legs that are steady and arms to catch myself with.Reality is that I will fail along the way, but I will not die of shame.Reality is that sometimes itís unavoidable to hurt others, but they are the ones to choose to let it ruin their lives.Reality is accepting the circumstances and accepting that you are the one who controls how you deal with it.

I reached the top and went out onto the platform and looked at the world around me.My fear was not completely gone, but I was at peace with it.I am still afraid of the truth, but I can deal with it.I will write.I will be brave.I will face reality.I will.I am.

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