Of all the items on my Memory List, this one was, hands-down, the most anxiety inducing. I’m extremely grateful that I don’t battle anxiety often; it’s a very rare occurrence that it comes to hang out with me. But in the four days between booking the adventure and actually making the jump, my Fitbit informed me of a 10% increase in my resting heart rate. I found it near impossible to concentrate on things. My sleep was broken and in short increments.
My body was not happy to be going skydiving. Why the heck was I doing it???
Well, I suppose I wanted to have the experience behind me. I wanted the memory of it. I wanted to know whether I would actually enjoy skydiving. I wanted to find a new appreciation of solid ground. I wanted to see if I would have the guts to actually do it.
I did it.
Much to the chagrin of the company I jumped with, I don’t suspect I will ever do it again. And that’s not saying anything bad about the company or my tandem instructor. They were wonderful. I just didn’t really enjoy the experience.
First off, I have a fear of flying. Jumping out of the plane was kind of a relief, because then I knew I wasn’t going crash inside of it. Morbid, I know. But that’s what goes on in my head every time I fly. It didn’t help at all when I was about to be the first tandem jumper out of the plane, I literally was standing at the edge of the open door, when the videographer frantically started pressing two buttons on a wall panel and my instructor pulled me back to sit down on the bench.
Was there a problem with the solo jumpers who just left the plane? Were we losing altitude? What the heck was going on?! Nope – we were going over clouds that were too thick to jump through. So the pilot had to circle around again for a new attempt.
That tight circling, coupled with the fact we were facing backwards, twisted my stomach. The first pangs of motion sickness hit me. I tried my best to breathe through it. That’s another fear: puking in public. Not only is gross for me, but it’s disgusting for anybody unlucky enough to witness such an event. And could you imagine the mess in the parachute if I happened to heave mid-jump? Ew.
We approached the jump point again, so up I got, shuffled to the plane door threshold, and waited anxiously for the light to switch from red to green. And just like that, I jumped.
The free fall was incredible! If that was the only part of the experience, I would have loved it. But as soon as the parachute opened, and I got the biggest wedgie of my life, things went sour… especially my stomach. My instructor wanted to show me how intense the g-forces could be by spinning us around. I may have yelled at him. Sorry, Scotty.
Thankfully, he tried to coast us back down to earth as gently as possible. It still was rough. I was close to gagging. Maybe my acu-pressure, anti-nausea bracelets kept things down. Maybe I had a guardian angel looking out for me. Whatever the reason, I managed to hold onto my lunch and stuck a pretty amazing landing.
Looking back at the experience, I’m proud of myself. I battled, and overcame, three fears: fear of flying (especially in those little puddle-jumper planes); fear of throwing up in public; and well, you know, the fear of jumping out of a fuckin’ plane!
Memory accomplished. And there’s even a video to prove it: