This morning I quoted Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics:
We should have jumped out of that airplane after all
Flying skyways overhead it wasn´t hard to fall
And I had so many crashes that I could not feel at all
Yeah it feels like I'm seventeen again...!
"Sing it, Annie!" I said. "Today's 'jump out of a plane' day! Wish me luck. (and joy!)"
Earlier that morning (530am!) I was awakened by a client whose sons had blown off their flights from Amsterdam to London because they wanted to play in Amsterdam for just one more day. I spent a couple of hours getting them sorted and all the while, repressing the impending jump I was taking just a few short turns down the road.
I got into the car with my sister, Karla, and we laughed. "Have you imagined yourself jumping?" She asked. "Well... yes... but... no but... yes but...." I had but I wanted to let it happen as it actually happened. This was code for, 'yes I've thought about it but no I do not want to deal with the terror. Let's just do this.'
We listened to a twenty-minute video whose host looked like a cross between a hippy and Brigham Young. Some mild laughter and then some waiting. Then my jump guide came.
"Hey Jason, I'm Sam." I was greeted by a jovial man with a worthy name. I also liked that he had a four-year-old son named Alex. I knew this guy wanted to land on the ground safely but wanted to have a good time, too. Then I met my sister's jump guide. His name was Tom. Yep. Tom and Sam were our jump guides for today. Did I mention the gorgeous black Great Dane on the premises named Magic? "I love this dog," I said to her owner. "I want to take her home with me."
So now I watch the video of me before, during, and after and I'm both excited because I get to re-live the jump, and amused by how very anxious I really was about it, but trying to be cool. What a silly combination -anxious but cool. Please! The "Not yet.. not yet..." from me is definite code for "Please, really? Am I really going to jump out of an airplane now...?!?" "Yep, ya sure are!"
So we hopped in and ascended. The moment of reality came when the plane leveled off and started to free-fall slightly. You feel that tickle in your belly and your instincts kick in. After that, it was all following the little bits of instruction until we were in the air. "Belly, breathe, banana." That's what they tell you. Fall out with your belly. Don't forget to breath. Bend your back and make a banana shape as you fall screaming from the sky.
Sam was awesome. If you get to tandem jump with this outfit, I highly recommend him. I felt like I was in very good hands.
"Look over there to your left," he said after we'd come out of a few sets of spirals. "Do you see the white chute?"
"Yeah, that's Karla, no?"
"Yep. And the white chute is the secondary. See that black thing to the right? That's the one that got tangled and Tom cut it loose."
I watched the jumbled material floating to the ground. "What happens when the second chute doesn't open?" I kept this question to myself. "Then you die." Karla and I said this to each other in the car on the way back.
I've always wondered what I would do if I were in that situation: if I were falling and the second chute didn't open. I'd like to think I'd just embrace the moment and instantaneously go with the fact that this was, indeed, the final descent and totally scream and whoop and shout for joy and exhilaration. Maybe. More likely I'd be doing that on the one hand and trying to figure how I'd tumble out of it when the earth met flesh and bone on the other. All of us crash eventually, right? Eventually we'll all meet the day when the second chute just doesn't open.
Risky business, this living thing is. But I'll take it. After we jumped up from landing, Tom got right back on the plane for another run. I'd love to have gone with him.
"I could do this every day," I said - or rather - shouted. And I would. I have my jump log with the first jump in the bag. Can't wait for the next one. Thanks Sam! Thanks Tom! You kept my sister safe. And thank you, Karla! We wouldn't have done this today if it weren't for you.
Happy tumbling ya'all!