Tuesday, November 16, 2010

i'm like a bird, i'll always fly away.

I know you have all been chomping at the bit to read/view my highly anticipated post, detailing one of the most adventurous (perhaps aside from living in NYC) things I have ever done in my long life. So without further ado, here is the play-by-play, the nitty gritty details of my landmark jump from 13,800 feet in the air.

For as long as I can remember (well, at least since Nick has been a skydive instructor), I have been promising I would "take the plunge" and try my hand at skydiving. However, for at least four years now, I have kept putting it off, using one lame excuse after another (it's too hot, it's too cold, maybe on my birthday, etc., etc.). Nick would schedule me (or attempt to schedule my jump) and I would promptly backpedal, like the pansy that I am (or was).

Anyway, after seeing that my less than brave (no offense, just fact) sister had performed the feat not once, but twice, I knew it was time to bite the bullet, get my game face on and take the plunge already. Another significant contributing factor in booking my bird-like experience was that I had made the commitment with two other girls from my community group. There's just not backing out when others are involved...especially when you're the organizer.

So, I booked our time and was pretty specific as to every single detail of our jump, right down to the time of day. I wanted it to be the perfect temperature (not too hot, not too cold), so we scheduled our day for October 30. I wanted us to all be able to go together in the same plane and I wanted it to be sunset when we jumped. If I was going to do this, I wanted it to be the best, most memorable experience possible.

In the days and weeks leading up to the jump, I honestly didn't give it much thought. I knew once I got there and physically got in the plane, the nerves would kick in, but prior to that, I wasn't too concerned. I suppose it's a huge advantage that Nick (my brother-in-law) does this as a job, so the thought of dying didn't really cross my mind. My biggest concern was having a rough landing and breaking my legs. I don't know if I've seen this on videos or where I got this thought, but that was pretty much all I was worried about.

Anyway, so we got to the dropzone that Saturday afternoon and I was really excited.

Nick took us through a quick tutorial on the basics, detailing our body position in the air, how we were supposed to land, etc. (He also had to answer several hundred questions from Sarah who was just a bit apprehensive over some of the details. For her, the more information that was provided, the more reassured she was. For me, ignorance was bliss and I didn't want to know any details.) Apparently, it was highly important that we perfected the arch position, so we practiced on the table.

Oh and we also got our jumpsuits which completed the official look at which point we needed to take numerous photo opportunities. My favorites would definitely have to be the superhero gazes.

We had to wait around a bit due to the windy conditions, but this was all a part of the plan in getting us to that perfect sunset time. Once our call time got closer, the fun and games were over and it was time to get serious. We had to put on our harnesses and get all geared up. The harnesses were extra fun because they cut up extremely high on your leg and made you walk like a bow-legged cowboy.

Once we were properly suited up for our deployment, we went outside to gaze upon the jumpers coming down from the sky on a previous flight.

After that, it was time do what we came there for. This was for all the marbles, the whole enchilada, the whole kit and caboodle...I think you get the point. Due to our stellar connections (thanks Nick), Michelle was able to serve as our "co-pilot" and I was so glad she got to share in the experience firsthand. I must admit, once we got on that plane, the nerves kicked in and I could have opened up a nature conservatory with all the butterflies I had in my stomach. I remember yelling on the videa "what am I doing?" Ha ha.

BUT, that didn't change anything. I was strapped to Nick and there was only one way down! You can definitely see it in my face in some of the pictures. By far the scariest part was sliding down to the open door of the airplane and crouching down at the opening. Holy cow, my stomach is doing backflips just thinking about it.

Once we made the jump (out of the plan at 13,800 feet!!!), all my fears left and I had the time of my life. Please let me take a moment to describe the actual skydive. I thought I would get that feeling you get when you're at the top of a roller coaster and it suddenly plunges. You know, that feeling where your stomach drops from your head to the toes of your feet. BUT......that's SO not the case. You actually don't even feel like you're falling. The only way I can explain it is that it feels like you're in a convertible with the top down going 500 MPH. You can't move your arms and I remember screaming (and drooling, kind of gross) for the duration of the freefall. It was so quick, but it was the most incredible feeling.

And then, just like that, the parachute opened and it was on to an entirely different, but equally amazing experience.

I was observing the earth with a bird's eye view, but I wasn't looking out of an airplane window...I was outside! I cannot begin to do this justice or adequately put into words how surreal those three minutes were, but I implore you to experience it for yourself. As I looked at the sunset on the horizon, I couldn't help but think upon the wonder of God and marvel at His indescribable creation that shouts of His eternal power. It was truly a spiritual experience, unlike any other I have had or will have.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

As we made our way down to the earth, I was absolutely grinning from ear to ear. Here is my descent from the gorgeous, awe-inspiring sky.

All I can say is thank you Nick and thank you Sarah and Mindi for spurring me on to jump out of a plane with nothing but some fabric and strings to keep me from plunging to the earth. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner because if I would have known how amazing it was going to be, wild horses wouldn't have kept me away.