Thursday, November 4, 2010
30 Before 30: Item 10
I have always wanted to go Skydiving. It's been on my life list of things to do for years and years and I've repeatedly talked myself out of it. As with Run a Marathon, this item quickly made it on my list due to a lifetime of building up the event in my head. Thanks to a push from my little brother, I finally crossed Item 10: Go Skydiving off my list.
Prepared for me to completely bail on him, my brother, Logan, arrived at my house on Friday night, the evening before the jump. He had researched and reserved our jump with Mile High Skydiving in Longmont, CO and by the shrill of my voice when we spoke about it and my flip-flopping position on skydiving in general, he assumed he should be nearby in case I tried to escape.
We woke up on Saturday morning to cloudy skies and I thought,"Whew...maybe I don't have to go through with his!" Log called to find out if we could still throw ourselves out the door of a perfectly good plane and, sure enough, they were doing jumps that day. Log, Spouse and I hopped in the car, stopped for a delicious (and potentially final) breakfast and made our way down to the Longmont Airport. We signed in, got geared up and then had to wait.
We waited and waited while the anxiety built up in my stomach and tightened my shoulders. Nervous fear tingled all over literally making my hair stand on end. Finally, after an eternity, they called our name. I turned to my Spouse, told him that after an appropriate number of years he could re-marry, gave him a kiss and we piled into a trailer to drive out to the runway.
Boyd, my instructor, met me at the plane and told me all the things you need to know to skydive. Essentially, lean back, scream and let him do the work.
We boarded the plane and, as the last one on, I quickly realized I'd be the first one off. At the last minute, one single-diver, without an instructor, hopped on making me #2 in the line-up. The plane took off and with the engine humming, Boyd tried to make small talk to take my mind off the farmlands below us which were becoming a smaller and smaller checkerboard of far-away Earth.
We gained elevation and after only a few minutes of flight we reached our goal height of 10,000 feet. Boyd gave me a hat, gloves, and goggles and let me know that when the door opened, I might have an overwhelming sensation of fear. Really? You think that's when the fear will strike?
Sure enough, the door opened and my stomach hopped into my throat. My heart pounded in my ears and I stared out at the horizon over the Rocky Mountains silently reciting the Act of Contrition (Catholic prayer said to ask forgiveness of sins). The single-diver stood up and made his way towards the door, without a pause he lept out and disappeared over the edge. It is at this point that I apparently stopped praying silently because Log said I burst out with a, "Jesus Christ, Holy Crap, Oh My God."
Boyd, thankfully a good foot taller than me, stood up and moved the two of us to the doorway (I pretty much had no ability to move my legs). I looked down at the ground below with dizzying fear and then focused my gaze on the horizon to avoid getting sick. Boyd asked, "Ready!?" and without waiting for my response jumped from the plane.
We tumbled over in the air and I saw the underside of the plane were I had just been planted safely. We flipped again and were facing the ground. Suddenly, my fear completely left me! We were soaring through the air and I felt bits of cloud pelting my face, but LOVED it! Instead of a feeling of falling, I felt as though a strong wind was pushing me upward. Although I was well aware of the fact that I was diving towards the ground, I felt suspended in air and an overwhelming euphoria. I couldn't help but scream with delight and laugh with complete joy!!!
I've never experienced such an amazing or addictive feeling before; it seemed as though we were flying! 45 seconds after diving head first through the air, we pulled the chute and slowed down to comfortable float. Boyd, being the good instructor that he was, asked if I was okay and then proceeded to make large figure-eights with the chute to give me a full view of the mountains, farmland and neighboring cities.
Looking out over the Rocky Mountains, I could see the layers and layers of snowy peaks which are usually blocked from our ground view of the Front Range. I felt weightless and completely calm, breathing in the fresh, cold air and taking in the gold, red, and orange trees below.
As Earth neared, I started to feel the pull of gravity for the first time since jumping from the plane and quickly became saddened that my flight was almost over. We landed softly on the soil and met up with my bro. I couldn't stop smiling, giggling and thanking Boyd. Completely overjoyed, I wanted to get right back on the plane and jump again!
We rode the trailer back to the diving center, received our diving certificates (both of our names are spelled wrong) and spent the rest of the day gleefully retelling the story of our jumps to each other, my spouse and friends.
A big, huge THANK YOU to my little brother for motivating me to actually do the jump! And a big thanks to my spouse for not believing that I'd have an Acme anvil my chute or disappear in a little cloud of dust on the ground, and thus, supporting me in facing this fear. Another thanks to the spouse for all the great photos he snapped of the day.
Skydiving was truly the most amazing feeling and an activity I cannot wait to do again!!! EVERYONE should skydive at least once cause the feeling of flying is unbelievable and, as much as I've tried here, is really something that you just can't describe.