By Lynn Cahoon
Growing up in Idaho, the week of the State Fair announced the last week of summer. School started the next week. I wasn’t a part of 4H so I didn’t have a cow or goat to show. I didn’t enter my baking or sewing into the home arts competitions. I just went for the fun.
My first memory of the fair was being stuck at the top of the slide. All you had to do was climb up the stairs, then get on a gunny sack and slide down. I wanted to do it. I handed over my tickets. Somehow, I got up the stairs, then I got stuck at the top. I was terrified.
I’ve felt that terror since. My fear of heights has gotten worse as I age. Or maybe, I’m just better at usually keeping myself out of those situations. I rode a Seattle rollercoaster– and thought I was going to die. I survived. I tried to climb a lighthouse in Outer Banks and got stuck on the fourth floor while kids flew past me, not realizing that they were in mortal danger. A few years ago, I went to Harry Potter World and did the Hogwarts ride. I was fine, except when I got off, I couldn’t make my legs work. I was going to be swept down into the pit by the moving sidewalk. Then a writer friend rescued me and let me use her arm to steady me.
I’m telling you this story because I don’t do risky things. Or at least, I don’t think I do risky things. Yet when I tell people I travel alone for writer trips, their eyes widen. I find event venues in unfamiliar places using websites and Google maps. Or, I take a $110 dollar taxi trip to the surrounding town where the event was being held. As the time went in the back seat, I wondered if I was being kidnapped and kept checking my phone for the event location. (I really should have researched that trip a little better. On the way back, I used UBER for the first time and saved a lot of money.)
When I’m traveling, I eat in restaurants alone – probably the only time I find to read one of the thousands of books on my phone. I enjoy the meal and the atmosphere. I take walks down unfamiliar roads in unfamiliar cities thinking I know where I am. Once I got lost in Chicago for three hours. I never did find that restaurant, but I finally found my hotel. God protects fools and idiots.
For some, even the act of writing and publishing a book seems risky. What if readers don’t like it? What if the series tanks? I worried about a lot of things when I started putting my writing out into the world. What if I became famous? How would that affect my relationships? What if I failed? How would I deal with that?
Terror. It comes in many forms. I’ve learned one important lesson over the years after finally going down the slide with a little help from my brother that long-ago state fair. And that’s this – not trying and wondering if I could have done it is worse.
When I’m old and sitting in my porch rocker, I want the basket of memories next to me to be filled with things I took a chance and did. Not things I wish I had done. Except for sky diving or bungee jumping. Those things can stay in the Not Done basket.
What’s one thing you are afraid to try but really, really want to do?
Angie Turner is all prepped to face Boise’s culinary best when she enters her restaurant, The County Seat, into a big State Fair challenge. Instead, she gets dunked into a new murder investigation after a killer starts scrapping her competition . . .
The Idaho State Fair is in full swing and chefs are lining up to enter Boise’s Best Restaurant contest, including Angie and her County Seat crew. They might be the hometown favorite, but the competition is steeper than a funhouse floor. And when a top contender is felled following a heated confrontation over a corn dog recipe, winning suddenly becomes a matter of life or death. With a foul foodie on the prowl, it’s up to Angie to dig into the case and put a murderer on ice.