I have a lot of things on my bucket list, including taking an African safari, riding in a hot air balloon, and being a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. I have also been able to cross a number of items off my bucket list, such as seeing Niagara Falls, zip-lining, and sky-diving. Yes, sky-diving.
For some weird reason, I had always wanted to try sky-diving. I guess the adrenaline rush that comes with never knowing whether today’s the day a 150-pound Rottweiler will try to separate my jugular vein from my throat is not enough. So when my husband and I encountered someone selling raffle tickets for a free sky-diving adventure, we bought two chances, wrote our names on the back, and dropped them into the jar, never expecting to hear anything more. Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call informing me I had won. Well, technically, I didn’t really win. It was just that the dozen people whose names had been drawn before mine decided to forego the prize. I have a feeling my husband’s and my tickets were the last ones left.
My husband, not wanting to be left out, decided to join me and pay for his own jump. We drove out to an airstrip early one Saturday morning, where our adventure awaited. The sky-diving company made us watch a scary video about safety and made us sign thirty forms saying we would not sue anyone if the jump didn’t go as expected. And, wisely, it wasn’t as if they just took us up and shoved us out of an airplane. They strapped us to instructors who supposedly knew what they were doing. I kind of felt like a baby in a front-facing papoose.
My instructor was cool. I nervously asked, “You’re not going to drop me, are you?”
He replied, “Nah, they told me if I did that again, I was fired.”
We practiced stepping out of a grounded plane a few times, although it was a bit disconcerting that I had to be the first one to step out. What if he chickened out and left me out there alone? But he assured me the only thing scarier than jumping out of an airplane was jumping out of an airplane with him. Then we were off. My husband and I, along with the instructors and the pilot crowded into a tiny plane. Because the seats were out and there was so little room, I had to sit backwards under the flight controls. I prayed I didn’t accidently brush against something important. Not being able to see out was also a little unnerving and the crowded little space became unbearably warm. Then my instructor motioned for me to get on my knees so he could attach me to him. Staying still on my knees was probably the hardest part, as I am elderly and arthritic, and the position was not comfortable. The process seemed to take forever. But I didn’t want to rush him. I wanted him to take all the time he needed to strap me on securely. I would have hated for him to have gotten fired on account of me.
The instructor opened the door of the airplane. Now came the moment of truth. Could I really step out of a perfectly good airplane and pretend to fly when God didn’t give me wings? I remembered sky-diving was on my bucket list and this would probably be the only opportunity I would ever have. I stepped out, placing my feet exactly where I was told. Wow! It was way colder up there than I would have imagined. And the ground was WAY down there.
The next thing I knew, we had left the plane and were in a free-fall, which didn’t feel like we were falling at all. All too soon, the instructor pulled the parachute cord and we were jerked upward with an incredible force that threatened to give me whiplash (as well as a wedgie). The rest of the journey down seemed in slow motion, but what a view! I could see for miles. We landed smoothly, and just like that, the adventure of a lifetime was over. But I have the video to prove I actually accomplished crossing another item off my bucket list.
Imagine my horror when I watched the video. What they don’t tell you is the force of the wind beating against your face separates your skin from the underlying layers. I looked like a basset hound with my loose, flapping skin! I didn’t even know I had jowls! I couldn’t have looked worse if I had been cast in a scary B-rated movie where the skin melts off your face. So you’ll just have to take my word for it that I actually sky-dived (dove?) Because there’s no way you will ever see that video! I guess I need a new item for my bucket list. Find a good plastic surgeon to get a face lift.