A long overdue story…
Last weekend my good friend Diana celebrated her birthday by jumping out of a plane for the first time. I love that sentence, “jumping out of a plane for the first time.” It’s so nonchalant and seems to imply an introduction to a lifelong skill, like riding a bike.
I have long wanted to skydive. Why?
1. It ranks in my mind amongst the ultimate thrills.
2. To skydive is to overcome.
Humans shouldn’t be 17,000 feet in the air…shouldn’t jump out of a plane 17,000 feet in the air…shouldn’t live to tell a story about jumping from a plane 17,000 in the air. BUT WE DO. Once you’ve skydived, you can never let yourself be limited again.
3. Therefore, I truly believe, after skydiving, you’ll never be the same. Hopefully, in a good way. Not in the foot shorter, 6 inches flatter, or unresponsive way.
But this isn’t my story. I am yet to jump, and I enviously watched as my friend, Diana and our buddy, Kim jumped for their lives.
I checked the weather. It’s supposed to be sunny and 83. At 9:30am, it’s foggy and wet. Therefore, I look like an ungroomed poodle. So much so, I have to stop at Walgreens to buy curl controller and pin-down barretts before meeting the girls. But again, this isn’t about me.
Diana sent a note out to her friends when she invited us on her birthday adventure. It warned that no one attending is allowed to talk about how “scary” this is. I’m the perfect person to accompany her, because I am freaking psyched.
On the drive to Salado we sing songs that empower you to jump from heights. Somewhere along the way, the clouds part and reveal a beautiful blue sky. It’s. On.
We find our place. A little scary. It’s part carnie, part abandoned hay field, part runway. There’s a lot going on here. We get out to take pictures.
We meet up with yet another of Diana’s fabulous friends, Gina, and go inside to log in and suit up. Inside I pay close attention to the operations. A barefoot guy who looks very much like a carnie and/or one of my uncles is packing chutes. He’s…unique, but he seems to know his job, and that’s what matters.
Now here’s what might be the best part about skydiving…. Dressing up like a super sexy highlighter AND wearing a harness that gives you even sexier diaper butt. It’s hard not to feel like woman in these outfits.
Unfortunately, these outfits make it really hard to go the bathroom, and inevitably, the closer you get to your jump time, the more compelled you feel to piss or shit yourself. There’s no easy solution to that and little can be done to resolve it.
Oh bonus, this place provides a keg while you wait. Odd and thank you.
Now this skydiving adventure comes in packages:
1. Just jump
2. Jump with pics
3. Jump with pics and video.
Choose either 2 or 3…they involve being strapped to a tandem jumping professional and being recorded by accompanying photographers… make damn sure the camera’s on. More on that later.
Diana’s jumping partner is an ex-tech nerd with a winning smile. Kim’s jumping partner is ex-military with a look that says “each jump is a flashback to the war.” I’m praying for her. But I feel confident that if they land in a field, get lost, and have to live off the land while they trek back to society, this guy knows how to catch gnats with a spoon and honey to feed her and keep her alive.
Our girls load up and take off. About five minutes later. As we stand wide legged in a field staring at the sky, Gina and I spot what looks like glitter being sprinkled from a plane. Convinced I know what piece of glitter is my Diana, I ooh and ahh and root, and essentially have a “double rainbow” experience. Luckily, all caught on video because I thought my camera phone was taking pics, only to learn it was recording me making an ass of myself. When our glitter lands we learn that wasn’t our glitter or our plane, and we start over.
This time the glitter IS our people. We follow them through their fall, watch their chutes open, and see them land on their asses.
They walk up looking like the crew from Armedgeddon. Astronaut badasses about to save the world from a giant asteroid. Smiles glued to their faces from ear to ear…they are super high on life. Sounding like surfers, we get thumbs up and a recounting of the trip, chalk full of “totally awesomes.”
For Diana, the elation is short lived because her photographer for the event comes up to inform her that he forgot to turn on his camera. But he did get her landing. The photo he brings back is of her, standing on the ground, after her jump.
My girl valiantly attempts to be satisfied until, our buddy Kim is presented her picture… A mid jump free fall shot of her giving two thumbs up with cheeks flapping in the wind and a big goofy grin.
Diana. Loses. Her mess.
I get up, walk to the counter and respectfully request that Diana be permitted a second once in a lifetime skydiving experience that can be properly photographed. The manager consents. And charges Diana’s dive, her tandem’s dive, and the replacement photographer’s dive to the photographer who forgot to turn on his camera. Yes, our boy is essentially working for free today. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but there’s really no room for professional errors in the skydiving business. I secretly pray he’s not helping to pack Diana’s parachute.
Diana’s second dive is a success and Diana is rewarded with an equally awesome photograph of her free fallin’, cheeks flappin’, with a big goofy grin, giving a thumbs up.
Hours after our arrival we finally load up and head off for lunch. Two of us are changed forever, having stared mortality in the face and won, and two of us are proud to know such fabulous women.
Tom Petty said it best:
I wanna glide down, over Mulholland
I wanna write her, name in the sky
I wanna free fall, out into nothin’
Gonna leave this, world for awhile
And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin’