The instructor told us it was time to break for lunch. He also mentioned what we'd already been wondering all morning.
"If the skies don't clear after two p.m. we won't be able to go up today."
The pit of my stomach wished that I wouldn't have to...that it could be postponed. But my heart and mind told me that today was the day.
As we ate lunch the skies cleared just as I both wanted and dreaded.
I wondered how it was that I could really want to do something so crazy yet feel utter terror to actually do it.
Because, I suppose, I have a little bit of the crazy in me.
As I got suited up, the video shows me all smiles but I could see the forced bravery behind it. The dryness of the mouth starting.
I climbed into the teeny tiny Cessna...the usual plane they used was out of commission.
Should I have been worried?
I pushed the thought out of my mind and knew it was time.
There was no option to turn back.
Not in my mind.
We were scrunched together in the small, hot plane. Leg to leg, shoulder to shoulder. It was too close for any kind of comfort in the most literal sense. Then there was that damn video camera in my face the entire time recording every flicker of emotion that flew across my face, the nervous licking of my lips, every bit of moisture evaporating from my mouth as I watched the altitude climb higher and higher as we circled and flew up.
up, uP, UP.
Everything below became smaller...
Until we were almost 10, 000 feet in the air and all I saw was a vastness of water the green and beige grids of farmers fields.
Holy Mothertucker - I'm freakin' TERRIFIED of heights...was I really going to JUMP OUT OF THIS PLANE?!
The answer to that was the door of the plane flying open.
For reasons unexplainable in any rational way, my fear flew out that door.
Without hesitation out I climbed onto the wing beside my instructor, assuming position and waiting for the other instructor to climb out with me....even though it seemed there was barely any room for me let alone two grown men and me.
I was simply holding onto that wing like I would hold on to a hamburger, standing on one foot.
If I were to let go.
I would go.
All I remember thinking was "Do not look down. Do NOT look down. Look forward. LOOK FORWARD!!!!"
Then. It was time. I was as ready as I would ever be.
I crouched down as I was taught to do, one knee bent, the other leg straight out behind me.
It was all up to me now.
I gave the nod to the men and I jumped.
There we went.
I was truly flying high in the sky.
There were no butterflies in my stomach as I had anticipated. Just the force of wind all around me.
I felt like a superhero for about 30 seconds.
It was the most phenomenal feeling I'd never felt before.
Until they pulled the cord and let go of me.
I watched the instructors become smaller and smaller - their parachutes were a lot smaller than mine for reasons that they needed to get to the ground quickly to guide me down via an earpiece.
I was now all on my own.
It felt like I was flung and jerked back up hundreds of feet when I realized my parachute didn't quite explode into what it should have so that I could safely float back down to earth.
No. My parachute did not open immediately.
The lines to the chute were twisted and it was up to me to kick my way out to ensure I landed with my life still intact. I immediately remembered what the instructor had told us to do in this situation.
Kick and twist your body.
Kick and twist your body.
Kick and twist I did. Maniacally so.
The parachute opened. Finally.
Glorious, vibrant and colourful.
I floated around up there in the big, huge sky overlooking the wide, beautiful scenery of the earth below...feeling at once so big and so very, very small.
Taking it all in. It's been 10 years and what I looked upon that day is etched into my memory as clear as if it were yesterday.
It was incredibly peaceful with the occasional direction in my ear to pull 180 degrees left or right.
Until the voice directed me 'right' as I was coming near a large treed area.
Right? That would take me directly into the trees.
Couldn't be right....but.....
I veered and swooped over those trees that I knew I shouldn't be heading toward.
I was scared. This wasn't right.
"Left, left!" the voice urgently called in my ear.
Yeah. That's what I thought.
And then whoosh....thump. Bump.
I landed safely.
On my bum.
And euphoria took over.
Another fear conquered.
Okay. Not quite conquered.
Isn't that the most important part of all?