I went skydiving today. Amazing.
However, when I went to recount the adventure I was shocked by how little I actually remembered. The bits and spurts that did come to mind were seemingly insignificant details, but the combination of all of them created a story worth re-telling. My best friend came down from DC and my husband patiently watched from the ground (still nursing his ACL) and kept our families updated.
We arrived at 10 AM to check in. We completed the training video at noon. First, was an over-dressed man attempting to simulate a lawyer basically telling us that we were waiving important rights - essentially, if something happens, we can't sue. Got it. Then, we were walked through the skydive process on a training video, with the exception of what we were supposed to do when we approached the aircraft. I cannot tell you how disconcerting it is to be watching a training video on a potentially life-ending sport and have a part of the instructional audio disappear. But, it was short-lived, and I'm guessing unless it was telling me to watch my head as I boarded, I didn't miss anything.
At 2:00 we were called back to get suited in the most unflattering suit ever and rigged with the most awkward contraption. The DVD needed some interview footage apparently to alert everyone who was watching the video as to what I was about to do (no, I get dressed like this and hang around aircraft for four hours on a gorgeous fall Saturday just for kicks). My personal opinion on the video interviewing sequence is that anyone watching it with me already knows what's about to take place and has probably already had much of what happens re-enacted. There are only so many ways I can say "I'm excited" and give the thumbs-up.
I completely hit my head getting on the plane. Such is life when you're 6'0". My friend and I were first in the plane and therefore last to take the plunge. It smelled like feet. I'd been pretty calm to this point, but as the plane ascended my stomach started to tighten a bit. My tandem partner, Bruce, was fantastic. Not overly excited or trying to be crazy. Just the basics, and that honestly made all the difference. They could not have paired me with a better match for my personality.
A bit before we reached our destination height we started to get strapped together. My ridiculous suit and harness fastened to Bruce's harness and parachute. In any case, the core of my body was not going anywhere. Appendages were fair game. The videographer/photographer instructed me to wave, thumbs-up, blow kisses, have fun with the camera. Both he and Bruce kept reminding me to keep my head up and smile at the camera so I wouldn't have a film of the top of my head. Then, on went the glasses. I think they sucked feeling out of my face. I couldn't smile because they were on so tight that any smiling meant a cut into my cheek. Not to say that that actually stopped me.
I approached the door, was shocked at how cold it was, and then it was my turn. Now, at this point, the instructions had been that there would be a "ready, set, go" complete with rock forward, rock backward, rock out of the plane. Except, when they did the demonstration on land the movement was quite exaggerated. When I was at the door, I was barely concious that any rocking was going on before I was pushed/fell out of the plane. I don't remember actually being upside down but after watching my friend's video I realized we had exited face forward and almost immediately flipped backside down before righting ourselves. Everytime I had watched someone on a video do that I was sure I would freak out if it happened to me. Turns out, I didn't even realize it.
At this point my mind is a constant, convoluted stream of "look for the camera, look at the ground, keep your head up, smile, thumbs up, blow kisses, look for the camera, where is the camera?!, look at the ground, are we still falling?, keep your hands in, kick your legs back, smile, thumbs up, look like you're having fun, look at the ground." While my mind was keeping me in line for at least a semi-entertaining DVD (little did I know exactly how entertaining), my mouth was wide open in a scream. If we had encountered an eagle in flight, I would have swallowed it. I slobbered everywhere...I think. It wasn't raining, that's for sure. I just kept screaming and smiling and shoving thumbs in the air and attempting to blow kisses. The latter proved difficult as the wind resistance ended up making it rather challenging. In fact, the second attempt I made looked like I was smacking my face for no reason.
This was the 60 seconds of freefall where we apparently reached speeds of up to 120 mph. I couldn't tell. Like I said, I was focused on taking in as much as I could and the only indication of speed was how fast the spit coming out of my mouth was making it to my goggles.
I waved goodbye to the camera man, Bruce pulled the cord to release the 'chute, and it was beautiful! He pointed out locations, let me steer if I wanted and landed us in one piece.
The video is worth the extra money. We laughed hysterically watching me flail in flight. At one point my husband asked if I was attempting to swim. I was definitely spazzing. Loved it.