The eagle has landed
So first, I have to say that this experience was even better than my first jump like 8 years ago. (Has it really been that long??) The first time, I was just--to use a term I coined today--"a big frozen ball of what-the-fuck." The whole thing was a blur and I was too terrified to really enjoy it. Today, though, was a whole different story. I was able to stay in the moment and actually SKYDIVE.
The worst part of the whole process was the waiting. Once we got there, it was a good hour before we were able to suit up and take off--and every minute was torture, I tell you. I don't think I sat down once. I paced back and forth like a caged lion, cracking my knuckles (and I'm not even a knuckle-cracker!) and watching all these jumpers falling out of the sky. "OMG," Hot Teacher (hereafter referred to as HT) commented at one point, trying to loosen me up. (And yes, he pronounced it as "Oh-em-gee.") "It's your dream come true! It is actually raining men right now!" You would think that watching jumper after jumper land safely would make me feel better, but no. It just gave me more time to ponder exactly what the hell I'd been thinking, and to make a mental note to call my crazy doc because CLEARLY my meds needed to be upped.
But once they started strapping me up, I started to feel calmer. I even felt pretty steady on the plane ride up (at least, I *thought* I did at the time. The facial expressions captured by the DVD, however, tell a different story. And as we started to slide up the bench towards the front of the plane--well, it looked like my jumpmaster was trying to throw a cat into a bathtub). The guys all did a good job of joking around with me to try to keep me distracted (although at one point, HT's jumpmaster looked at my pack and casually remarked to my instructor, Dave: "Oh, so they were able to get the blood stains out of that one, huh?" I glared at him. "Not funny yet?" he replied).
Dave and I. Yes, for an older guy, he is absolutely gorgeous. His eyes are actually the same exact blue as the sky.
Suddenly, we were at an altitude of 14,000 feet--and they opened the door of the plane. One by one, the people in line ahead of me started disappearing from sight and literally dropping into thin air. I took a deep breath and resolved not to let myself feel the fear. After all, what good would it do at this point? Backing out wasn't even an option--my students think I'm a rock star for doing this, and there's no way I could have shown up on Monday and seen the looks on their faces when I told them I couldn't go through with it. Plus, it was kind of easy NOT to be scared--it all seemed so surreal. My brain was unable to process the fact that I was seconds away from falling out of an airplane. It was almost like watching it happen to someone else.
And then it was my turn. As I'd been taught, I crouched down and hung the toes of my shoes over the edge of the doorway. Once I had my balance, I let go of the door frame (that was actually the scariest part) and wrapped my arms around my knees, cannon-ball style. Dave counted off, "One!" And we rocked forward. "Two!" We rocked back. And then..."Three!"--and we were somersaulting into the clouds.
They don't call me crazy for nothin'
So what'd YOU do today?
And I was flying! Last time, I was so terrified that I don't think I let go of my pack. This time, I was able to let go and spread my arms out, Superman-style. (This is the equivalent of letting go of the bar and raising your arms way up as you go down on a roller coaster.) I was even able to give my Ron, camera guy, a thumbs-up and a couple of waves as we plummeted to the ground at 120 mph. Dave also spun me around a few times for good measure (he'd asked for permission before we went up, and I told him that I'd be pissed if he DIDN'T).
My boobs and I are fearless
Reaching out to pull Ron over to say hello, up close and personal. Notice that I'm still wearing a perma-grin.
Even at 10,000 feet, I can still flirt with the cute camera guy.
You free-fall for about 60 seconds. My first time, it seemed like the longest minute of my life, and I couldn't wait for the parachute to open. This time, I was almost bummed as I felt the snap and sharp jerk upwards that told me the chute had been deployed. (Of course, I would have been even MORE bummed if it hadn't, LOL.) But it also meant that it was time for the SECOND best part of the experience--floating down to the ground.
It works! Holla!
Once the chute opens, you're enveloped in a cone of silence. Again, last time I jumped, I was still frozen with fear, even at this point in the jump. Today, however, he put my hands into the straps and let me steer the chute. (It's not rocket science--to go to the right, you pull on the right strap.) This part, the floating part, lasts for about 5 minutes--I don't know, maybe it was more. I was just gazing around, steering and laughing with delight when he'd give the straps a tug and make us spin around in lazy circles.
As we came in for our landing, it seemed that the ground was approaching at an alarming rate of speed. But then he pulled on both straps, making the chute bend into an upside-down "U"--and we suddenly slowed down and hit our target landing spot dead-on. (My only regret of the day: I didn't land on my feet, AGAIN.) And that's when we got THIS shot:
This picture was taken during the filming of my post-jump interview. Ron asked how it was, and I said, almost trance-like: "It was...so amazing." And then suddenly I perk up and go, "And I did good, too!! I was flyin'," and I do this weird little airplane thing with my arms. I think I actually made airplane noises, too. I looked like I was mentally impaired. It was even more hysterical to watch because I don't remember a single moment of it. I honestly think that I was a little loopy, either from adreneline or all of the changes in altitude.
As I stood up, Ron asked if I had any final words for my students, and I cockily replied, "I think the video speaks for itself. Yeah...I'm pretty awesome."
Seriously, the DVD is SO funny. I'm trying to get it uploaded but that may not be till tomorrow.
Final note: HT landed after me (you can see him coming in on my video). Like me, he landed sitting down--only he didn't get up. A couple of the guys went over there, and realizing that something was up, I headed over, too. Turns out, a few seconds after his parachute deployed, he almost passed out. He was totally fine during the freefall part, but I guess he got this huge head rush once the chute opened. Dave said that it's actually pretty common--you have all that adreneline from falling, and then suddenly, in a matter of seconds, you're just kind of "sitting there" (albeit way, way up in the sky), and your body kind of OD's on the adreneline, which now has nowhere to go. I sat there with him for a few moments, patting him on the back as he put his head between his knees.
"It's okay," I said tenderly. "I won't tell anyone you're a p*ssy."
And THAT, my friends, is the story of my skydiving adventure.
HT, at our post-jump debriefing...at the local tiki bar
Texting our fellow teachers: "Dammit, Jen is SO MUCH COOLER than I am!"