Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bring it on darlin'!

"Life is a headlong rush into the unknown.  
We can hunker down and hope that nothing hits us 
or we can lean into the wind and say 'Bring it on darlin', 
and don't be stingy with the jalapenos.'" 
Red Spicer

Here I go again clinging to the edge of the unknown.  This time I am hooked to another human who I completely trust will pull the chute that will keep me from plummeting to my death from 13,500 ft in the air.
But lets start from the beginning. :)

I signed the waiver.

Being single and 43 I had no expectations for anyone to throw me a birthday party, so I decided to create my own epic adventure.  Committed to my "get out and play" summer,  I put it out on Facebook that  I was going to go skydiving for my birthday- on Friday, June 13th.   My ex-husband John thought I was nuts, being that 15 years ago I was the girl who wouldn't even go close to the railing when we visited the Empire State Building.
But as you know, a lot has changed since then.

Blessed to have adventurous  running friends who wanted in on the excitement,  we soon found ourselves in a box of a room watching a video on how to do your first tandem jump.  Nervous energy permeated the air, and we giggled like teenagers as the sexual innuendos flew on how we should arch and bend while strapped to another human being.

Next we met Alan, our strong and handsome (aka: dreamy) jump instructor who explained our three jobs.
1.  As you sit on the edge of the plane before the jump, put your head back on your jump partners shoulder, cross your arms and curl legs back on the plane.
2.  When we jump, arch your back.  Arms come out like wings at 90 degree angles and legs are bent at the knees. 
3.  During landing- GET YOUR FEET UP.  We will be landing on our butt.
Simple enough right?
We practiced these steps showing that we could indeed do the motions, gritting our teeth because as runners we all have the flexibility of a pole, but are too stubborn to admit it.  We all passed the test and got into groups of 3.  As birthday girl, I insisted I got to go first.  :)

Gordon, Abraham and I (in that order) along with our tandem jumpers packed ourselves like sardines in the small plane.  I gave my best fake smile to the camera and we were off, down the bumpy grass runway and into the sky.  I sat between Alan's legs; my nervous hands resting on his shins, my concentration on my breath as we climbed to 12,000 feet and they opened the latch door for "air."
Seeing the landscape below was both terrifying and awe-inspiring.  I snuggled in with serenity, focusing completely on this humbling moment and we climbed to 13,500 ft.
After making sure I was securely attached and a round of "Happy Birthday,"  it was our time to go.

We scooted to the edge of the open door.  I put my head back on Alan's shoulder and crossed my arms.  1... 2... 3....
We jumped. 

The first 10 seconds were fucking terrifying, mostly I think because my brain could not comprehend what falling 120 mph was supposed to feel like.  I forgot to do job #2, lifting my arms to 90 degree angle, but Alan pulled them up for me and I regained my senses.
What a CRAZY  rush!  Its like the runners high on speed (as I imagine).  The adrenaline surged through every part of my being as we fell to the earth at 120 mph.
 A feeling hard to put into words.
I tried to lift my head and smile at the camera, but all I really wanted to do was take in the world below me with complete mental focus.
Alan pulled the chute and there was a sudden quiet and calm.
A silent stillness I have never experienced before.  With complete peace and ultimate clarity I was humbled at the smallness of my existence.  "Holy shit."  I said.
Alan laughed.  "I love taking people on their first jump."

My feet came up for the perfect landing as I heard my friends cheering me on.  Honestly, when I landed I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the experience.  So many thoughts and emotions swirled through my being.
 And then I puked.
 Grounded again :) 

After we all jumped and still buzzing,  my friends and I agreed that the coolest part was that we shared this experience TOGETHER.
We toasted that "We said we were going to do it, and we did it."
Cheers to us!

Brene Brown says that "you have to be brave with your life so others can be brave with theirs."
Today  Robert, Mike, Gordon, Abraham, Megan, Monica and I claimed a title beyond runner, parent, worker or friend. 
We are now badasses who jump out of freaking airplanes.
"Bring it on darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."   
Forever changed.


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