Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well I did it. I wanted to wait until I had video to post, but I guess that's not happening anytime soon - thanks bf! I'll try to post again once it becomes somehow accessible to me and not on someone's weird, little recording tape that I haven't seen since the 1990s. But apparently it's quality. Whatever.

Turns out the skydiving got canceled and then rescheduled. I got all psyched up for Saturday and then it was too gusty. But Sunday? Perfect day.

Let me set the scene: I finally went to sleep early Sunday morning (after pitching a pitiful fit to the bf about having to get up early the next day and insisting on going to bedorshire). Of course I couldn't sleep because I kept hearing the wind knock against the windows and wondering if the whole thing was going to be called off - yet again. Part of me hoped it would, because I was crazy tired but the better part of me was hoping Texas weather would do me proud. I woke up at 8:30 (see? early!) and called my co-skydiver in crime. She called back shortly and told me we were on. Of course I still had a little time to snooze if I wanted but I was way to excited/antsy.

I went to the living room and found a Golden Girls marathon on the Hallmark Channel (aside: GG moved from Lifetime to Hallmark! Who knew?) and I was pretty certain it was a good omen. After I'd finally coaxed the bf out of the house, we made our way to the launch pad. I insisted on having a bagel before I fell out of a plane and after about 3 stops - bagels are hard to find! - I was officially on my way.

In the car ride there - the place was a good 30-40 minutes away - the bf was amazed AMAZED! at how cool, calm, and collected I was. I told him there was nothing to mentally prepare for, so really what was there to think about at this point? He thought there was definitely a mental preparation aspect to the whole thing, but after discussing with my co-jumper, also a lawyer, we decided it must be our profession that keeps us from getting nervous at attempts at physical endeavors. Put me in a courtroom and I'll be reciting this or that, anticipating arguments, going over easy objections, etc. in my head the entire morning before. But skydiving? Chatter and fun music is all I had to think about.

Blah, blah, blah, 1 orange jumpsuit later and we're up in the plane. I looked like a convict but at least I was visible... I guess. My instructor woman! asked me if I had any questions - as we're climbing up to 10,000 feet of course - and I just wanted to know what happened if she died on my back before she pulled the cord thing. (I swear I'd just seen something on yahoo news or similar about that.) Luckily the chute had a gadget that automatically triggered the parachute if we reached a certain altitude.

As I looked out the window on the way up, I was completely calm. I realized there wasn't one butterfly in my stomach, which was nice because I can't say I feel that way on any normal day, much less a day when I'm about to potentially plummet to my death. We scooted, quite literally, up to the plane door and as we waddled our way forward I had a momentary panic moment (much like I do when I stand on a diving board or when I'm tripping over my shoes at the top of my staircase at home, or ya know, the crack on the sidewalk outside work, whatevs) that I was about to fall. Luckily I didn't have much time for speculation and before I could think to put my hands in front of me to catch myself, I was out. And flying! And all of a sudden realizing I couldn't breathe. Nope, I wasn't flying - I was very quickly suffocating to death. My brain was telling my mouth that of course I could breathe; I was surrounded by air; there was nothing I could do but breathe. But of course my illogical lack of oxygen receiving lungs took over and I panted horribly. Luckily the free fall portion was over relatively quickly. It wasn't a scary experience by any stretch but more of an uncomfortable feeling that passed as soon as the wind stopped hitting me in the face so hard.

And then IT happened. The parachute opened and after the initial lurch and feeling of gravity, I experienced one of the most peaceful, calm, and relaxing few minutes of my entire life. It was pretty remarkable.

I did worry briefly when I saw my friend spiraling crazily downward but apparently that's what we were all doing and it only looked scary from above (so said my tandem jump instructor). There was one weird thing though. As we were getting closer to the ground, my instructor was telling me how to put my feet for landing, etc. I responded "okay" after every instruction she gave. Apparently this caused her some amount of anxiety because she said, "you keep saying 'okay' but are you really okay?" Um, is there some kind of conversation I should be having when I falling toward the earth? Is there a Miss Manners on this subject that I don't know about? What should I have been saying? Not okay? Commenting on last week's episode of Lost? Strange.

We landed on our feet, just like I'd imagine you'd land if you could really fly, about 6 feet away from the guy who unhooked us, so I'm guessing my instructor was pretty accurate. I kept wanting the parachute to collapse all around me so I could come climbing out from underneath it like they do on cartoons but they were too professional for all that.

Things I learned:

1) Wear your hair back and don't let one, single strand get loose. I had quite a few strays and that shit was impossible to brush for hours!

2) Bring your own gloves. I don't know of finger diseases, necessarily, but if there are some, you'd get them sharing general skydiving gloves with all the other scrubby folks who run through that place.

3) Skydiving is the best way ever to have a peaceful day. I had the most relaxing day that I've probably ever had - or at least had in the last few years. I just kept thinking, as I was sitting on the couch reading, "I should really start all my days off like this."

4) If you're an adrenaline junkie, don't skydive. It's not all that adrenaline-enducing. I didn't do it for that purpose, but I was a tad bit surprised I wasn't more hyped up after it was all said and done.

5) Don't talk very much to your instructor. Those fools will do everything in their power to freak your shit out. I didn't encounter it so much with my instructor, but I could see it in others and feel it bubbling just underneath the surface of mine.

6) Always go skydiving (as in go to the location) with someone who won't do it. It really helps with the superiority complex you're bound to have after you're done.


Anonymous said...

thanks for posting so I can live vicariously through you. There's no way I'll ever have the guts to do it!

RanaElizabeth said...

Big question: Would you do it again?

Tina said...

Here's the thing - it was really quick. I'm sure it wasn't in reality but when you're doing it, it seems really fast. I didn't enjoy the freefall part so much, thanks to my panic-inducing breath situation, but the rest was awesome. So I guess my answer is contingent on the type of diving I would be doing. If I could get a guarantee of a long parachute time, I'd definitely do it again. If I knew it was a quanity vs. quality type of type, I'd pass.