Thursday, September 12, 2013

[Challenge] Take that dare…

Yesterday morning, after working my usual night shift I attempted to fall asleep. 
This is my sister landing, I lost
my pictures and video when my hardrive fried. :(

My mind had different plans for me. I couldn't sleep a wink. It was almost like it had been hot-wired and all I could do was sit there thinking about my life leading up to this day, thinking about the mistakes I've made (especially in the last few years), the dreams I had (the ever changing and morphing dreams), and considering the fact that in a few short hours I would be looking death right in the face.

It all was a bit dramatic, even for me. After all, I was going to be strapped to a professional and we would be wearing a parachute. It was hardly a deadly scenario.

That’s right kiddos, yesterday I went skydiving.

Let me say that again.


I Went.


And not just once my friends. I went twice.

Last week, during a normal day of sitting In my living room with my sister Samm, perusing the internets, and just killing time until I would be going to work, Samm looks up and says three simple words “Let’s go skydiving.”

We've said or thought those words so many times. Who hasn’t? Isn’t that at the top of practically everyone’s bucket list followed by a bunch of impressive sounding but equally ambiguously unattainable loads of crap? “Go skydiving”, “fall in love”,” see something majestic”, “find the cure to death”... We make those lists and painstakingly word them so that we feel like perhaps our life will have more to it. We post them to our “facetwitpinstagram” so that everyone else can look and see that our future is about to be something out of a Nicholas Sparks or a Die Hard movie (depending on how much bloodshed is included).

However, so very often, those lists are never accomplished. That doesn't mean that those people didn't have a full life. It just means that somewhere inside them some dreams were never realized. And it kind of kills me a little because now I know how easy It would have been to cross of at least one of them. It just takes a dare.

The drive there was a mix of sleepiness and dread. Being Julie I of course was thinking of every possible thing that could go wrong. At one point it hit me that up to this point I have had a very difficult time envisioning my future, or doing anything particularly worthwhile or long term. I thought for a moment that maybe that was because I was meant to die here, at the young age of 21 (like I said, dramatic huh?).

Don’t get me wrong though, It wasn't all like that. The other half of the drive I was buzzing. I couldn't even comprehend what was about to happen. I was trying so hard to come to grips with it. At some point it occurred to me that I hadn't slept in about 20 hours, and I hadn't eaten in over 10 (something I don’t recommend if you’re about to go skydiving. You’re practically flying already before you even get in the plane).

We arrived at Skydive Jersey (USE THEM!) and we saw two parachutes descending. The thing I had been trying to come to grips with all of the sudden became very real. My stomach did a complete back-flip twist inward dive deeper into my stomach and I realized then and there that this wasn't going to happen. No way were they going to be able to get me out of that plane.

We ended up being about an hour early so we took a drive around the beautiful Jersey country, got some orange juice (I needed that), made use of a bathroom from a chainsaw massacre movie, and waited to be driven to the dive site.

After initialing twenty minutes worth of paperwork saying that Skydive Jersey would not be held responsible for my dismemberment I paid and was harnessed up. My tandem was a guy named Rob, who would soon be one of my two favorite humans in the world (My second tandem was Brian, he was my other favorite person in the world). I chose to do a video package and so underneath the hot humid sun I tried to act excited and not at all like I was about to barf. A guy who was scheduled to go before us returned, white as a sheet, and rambling. He didn't make it out of the plane. My confidence continued its waning despite Rob’s assurances that I didn't really have a choice about whether or not I was jumping. I was going to be attached to him.

The harness didn't really seem like it should be enough. I felt like I should be wrapped in about a hundred thousand adamantium chords, but I continued to pretend that I was just dandy. Samm was paired with Paul (who had jumped over 13,000 times), she harnessed up, and into the plane we went.

THE CLIMB WAS FREAKING HIGH! I knew we would be jumping at 10,000 ft but I didn't think that meant we were going to be high enough to see the earth curving away from us, and I didn't think we were going to be above any clouds! The entire time up Rob and Paul are screwing with us so bad. Anytime there’s a calm moment they shake us, or shout and Samm and I nearly lose our lunch each time. They open the window and we scream bloody murder. Rob tells me he’s only ever had two jumpers die, and then a few seconds later reassures me that he’ll take care of me. I’m practically bipolar at this point.

A few minutes from our jump spot we start getting harnessed up and now for the first time I feel completely secure. The somewhat loose fitting climbing gear with suspenders all of the sudden feels much better now that the straps are tightened and I am practically melded to Rob. He tells me what we’re about to do and then the plane door opens. I scream so loud, I can hear Samm screaming  behind me. And then all of the sudden all I can think of are Rob’s instructions.

I’m doing this.

I put my right foot on the narrow bar and my left foot follows. We are officially outside the plane. Rob begins to rock back and forth and then we jump.

And we aren't falling. We’re sitting in the air and the earth seems to be coming closer and moving away at the same time. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings or the images but I’ll say what I've told everyone so far.

Skydiving is like being completely still at 120 mph. It’s like your mind all of the sudden is empty of anything except what you feel and what you see. You aren't thinking, you’re experiencing. You’re completely disconnected but at the same time you've never been more grounded (ironic because you’re nowhere near the ground). For about 50 seconds I was completely one hundred percent free of worry, pain, discomfort, fear, or anything. I think it was what falling in love is supposed to feel like (I’m not really sure though cause I have yet to experience that).

He pulled the chute and it was over. Well, the free fall was over.

The super tight straps all of the sudden were unbearably uncomfortable and a couple of body parts had been painfully relocated. Thankfully you only have to deal with that for about ten seconds and he loosens up the straps. Oh man, parachuting was a blast. He spun us around; we caught a couple thermals and just floated completely weightless for 5 sweet seconds. I couldn't stop giggling and sighing. It was amazing.

I had been preparing myself for a terrifying landing but that was probably the easiest part. We slid in really gently on our butts and it was over. I was with so much adrenaline that I probably would have kissed that guy If Samm hadn't flown in a few seconds later (A tip for the guys out there. If you want to pick up chicks - become a tandem skydiver instructor. The ladies associate those feelings of complete euphoria with you and you pretty much have the chicks madly in love with you by the time you hit the ground). She told me later that after I jumped she had completely lost it, but she looked about as happy as I felt when she landed.

We couldn't stop smiling; I've never felt happier in my life. I don’t know if anything else could ever make me as happy. We laughed and talked and said our goodbyes. They told us if we jumped against here would be a big discount but we didn't really think that was happening. We left and went into town and got some pizza. While eating our cheesy baseball cards (that pizza was crap) all of the sudden I felt the crash. It was over.

I felt like I had just had a bad breakup or something. I couldn't believe how miserable I was. Samm and I joked about going back, and then It wasn't a joke, and pretty soon we were in the car on our way back. This time Mom and Dad were jumping too.

The second time was just as amazing if not more. I could really appreciate what was happening and I was prepared for it. The guys we were paired up with this time (Brian and Brandon) were just as hilarious. If you want a more detailed account of this jump you can just scroll up and re-read what I wrote and replace “Rob” with “Brian”.

Mom (she surprised us all by deciding to jump) and Dad had a blast. They got a bit motion sick but other than that they said it was really cool. Though like most adults they handled it a bit better than Samm and I. There were a lot less hysterics.

The crash wasn't so bad this time. I knew I would be coming back soon (probably next summer, who’s coming with?). I think that after I graduate I’m going to certify and It might be my hobby. It’s such a rush. I need to go again. I NEED to.

So people, there is something out there you want to do. Maybe It’s skydiving, maybe it’s eating sushi. You've been daring yourself to do it for so long that you just need to go and do it! Because the world is here for us to taste it. We need to let ourselves try all the flavors of life. There is always an excuse not to. When are you going to send those excuses running for cover?