I am a wee bit Claustrophobic.
I like to breathe air that has not already been in and out of my body once.
Not a big fan of heights either. I MAY have been known to have a panic attack or two.
Here’s what happened.
My friend Yolanda sent me a video. I watched, with excitement! This was so amazing!
I said to her, “I feel like I did this right along with you!”
“Mary, LET ME BE CLEAR. You DID NOT do this with me!”
So I set out to do it myself to prove to her I could.
I made the appointment.
They called, “Too windy today.”
So we try again today. Beautiful, 60 degree, sunny (not a cloud!) day.
We are excited, my daughter Lily and me.
They sit us down to watch a video and basically scare us to death.
We shall not be moved. We are going skydiving!
“Oh no not yet my friends, not until you sign the waivers please.”
By signing the waivers they mean, read this, this, this, this, this AND these three pages sign and initial. 40, not kidding, 40 intitals and 4 signatures later we are done with the forms. Because I like to read the fine print let me tell you the craziest thing I learned from reading those forms.
Paraphrased but pretty close: EVEN IN THE FACE OF OBVIOUS, BLATANT AND RECKLESS DISREGARD OF OUR PROPERTY, PEOPLE AND OURSELVES YOU CANNOT HOLD US RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR HEALTH AND/OR DEATH.
WooHoo, let’s do this! (I say to myself, “self I say, uhhhmmm, are you crazy?”)
As we are suiting up, the instructors make jokes about making it back alive.
Most of the jokes are lame and have been told a BILLION times you can tell.
The witty banter does takes my mind off of how, um, uhhh, STUPID we just may be. This goes on for a good 10 minutes — because we get to watch the guy PACK OUR PARACHUTES!
I want to tell him to, “Stop talking and pay attention to what you are doing!”
As though he knows what I am thinking he says,
“Don’t worry you guys I get paid a bit more for packing the chutes than the other guy.” Oh yeah, I feel better already…
“Step into this.
I am going to hook this around you.
It will be tight but don’t worry I will unclip you in the air.
(I’m sorry, did you just say unclip me?)
Now when we are in the plane we will climb to 10,000 feet.
We will fly directly over Lake Michigan.
When we leave the plane I need you to bend backwards in the shape of a banana, arms up and back and wrap you legs around the back of mine.”
“No problem” I say, wondering what he just said.
“Are you ready?”
We head outside toward the planes. I see the beautiful 8-seater plane, royal blue, clean, shiny and ready for take off. Our instructor starts walking away from it toward the Red Baron. I am wondering where Snoopy is. “Seriously?”
This plane, I am sure is not ours, is red and small. Did I say small? I meant TINY! Four plus the pilot must fit and let me tell you two plus the pilot isn’t going to fit.
“Mary, you get in first because you will jump after Lily.”
“So, my friend, to be clear, you want me to climb into this teeny tiny little cabin of a plane that has no seats except the pilot’s and
THEN you want me to crawl all the way to the back corner
WITH all this gear on,
turn around to face forward and
THEN let you all get in after me closing me in?”
“Did I tell you how old I am? I have not sat pretzel-style since uh, 4th grade!” I do as I am told. And no kidding, we all fit! Not pretty and I am sure not safely, but we fit.
The pilot shouts, “Fifteen minutes to climb 10,000 feet, sit back and enjoy the ride the view is beautiful.”
Sit back? I just explained the scenario, are you seeing a way to “sit back”?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I do look out the window best as possible and it really is an amazing day for this. There are maybe two clouds and they have parted ways for us to complete this. When I look down I am staring at the beautiful Carthage College campus in WI. The sky is the perfect shade of blue, as is the body of water starting to appear out my window. Body of water? There is no longer any land in sight, just Lake Michigan in all its glory. Ummmm, where are we going to land?
I remember back at the “getting ready” stage, the instructor mentioned something about a floatation device around my waist. What was that for? I can’t remember now…
With my mind spinning and rambling aimlessly through my life the guy says, “we are going to open the door now, we are all going to have to squeeze toward the back of the plane so Lily can get into position.”
Yeah, okay, keep me posted on how that goes for you guys.
The door of the plane opens, holy crap, the door? You mean half the right side of the plane, don’t you?
Air is gushing in on all sides and Lily has to move to the open door.
ANYONE ELSE’S HANDS SWEATING RIGHT NOW?
Did you know that Lily is my youngest? I am responsible for letting my youngest get in a plane to climb two miles in the air only to jump right out of said plane.
I am an AWESOME mother. She will not forget that I am sure.
“Lily swing your feet… asdfghj wertyu asdfg erty sdfg”
I no longer hear a word her guy is saying, my mind can only see her tiny baby feet outside on this, what looks like a bicycle pedal. The wind is incredible.
God, I love her, I love Emma, I love You, I am sorry I am doing this!”
One, two, three and I see what looks like two bodies hurling toward the earth at a…
“Mary, you’re turn!” Oh, nuh-uh.
My guy says, “Move your body to start to come toward the door.”
Again, I am a bit older than everyone in the room and pretzel style doesn’t come apart as easy as it used to. AND I have 180 bucklesfloatationdevicesstraps around me.
You know how when you are getting in a car there are handles to grab on to help you get in? I use those to finally make it to the same place Lily was moments before and my guy says, “grab hold of your harness.”
Oh yeah I remember that, I tell myself this and release my right hand to grab the harness. The guy is now screaming something else, I stopped listening because I can’t get the right side of my brain to compute, because my left brain is saying, “Sorry stupid, I am NOT letting go of this plane!”
You might think this funny, however I am thinking, so this is what they mean when the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.
He grabs my hand and once released I grab my harness.
“Okay, Mary you remember everything we talked about right?”
“Okay, one, two” AND we jump.
Hey! I want a do over, you didn’t count to three!
HEY BIG GUY, WE ARE DROPPING PRETTY RAPIDLY!
Yes, he says, 120mph until we open.
WOW, look at the water!
AMAZING! Will my floatation device work?
THIS IS SO COOL!
I hope I look pretty on the camera!
WHOOOOOSH! All of a sudden I am rapidly, decisively and violently being pulled back up towards the sky and desperately away from where I want to be!
And then the music and the heavenly angels are singing, we are floating…
All is well with the world. We just float like this and look around at God’s country. Yeah I think I am going to take up parachuting and travel around the country and do this!
I see Lily’s chute just below us about to land. It is a beautiful red, white and blue parachute. AND the guy gets paid a bit more to pack it. Good for him and good for Lily, it seems to be going well.
“Ok Mary… gh onnma sdfgh jse rga dg”
What did he say? Buckles start to be unclipped. Oh, that is way better, it really was too tight. HOLD ON! You’re unclipping me!
More buckles unclipped. Are you uh, trying to get rid of me?
“Just enjoy it Mary!” I think that is God speaking to me, because I no longer care one iota about what my guy is saying. And so I do. I enjoy it. We are soaring over Lake Michigan and it is a wonder. For how dirty I think the Lake is, you can see clear to the bottom today. We do few swirls around to make sure we are in the right wind pattern to land.
The landing strip is the beach right alongside Lake Michigan. We are watching Lily land. From my view they do it effortlessly. They unbuckle and Lily stands and starts waving. I can’t see the smile on Lily’s face but I know it’s there and I know it is big. We have done it! We jumped out of the sky!
Our landing? Welllll, My guy says, “Hopefully we will just slide right in on our bums, but the wind may change and we will have to stand and run.”
You stand and run pal. I am going with the slide in plan.
The wind grabs the chute and he says, “STAND UP AND RUN!”
Once again, bodies don’t move as quickly as they used to. Okay, okay, MY body doesn’t move as quickly.
We try that and let’s just say, five minutes later we are UNtangled from the chute and I am no longer ENtangled with the guy!
Well that was easy!
He takes one last video which is a plug for the center.
(He tells me this beforehand)
“So Mary we landed, we lived, would you it again?”
“Absolutely. AND if I do it will be at the WORLD DIVING CENTER!”
My smile is as big as I knew Lily’s was. We hugged and Lily says, “I love you.”
I am an AWESOME mother. She will not forget that I am sure.