mood: i can fly
listening to:hackers – stumble you might fall, moby – life me up
do you wanna hear something crazy?
something so outlandish that you would be sitting in stunned horror for days?
probably not, as it will be a waste of time, so i will not tell you anything that would force you to be so damn unproductive. procrastination is my prerogative!
however, i will entertain you with a story of what i did today.
out of an airplane.
which was just fine.
in one word, i went SKY DIVING!!
INDEED. i may be all soft and cuddly outside (and the long bath sure helps that – yay for pampering and being girly and having pink toenails! does anyone want to buy me revlon nail polish Twinkled Pink? cause i’m all up for more pink shades! i have sheer innocence (HA its number 13 in the hues!) which is awwwwesome), but i’m a hard gazing crazy dare devil inside.
way deep inside.
so deep that i didn’t even know until for some unknown reason i figured that i want to try skydiving. and instead of going tandem (strapped to another person, who happens to be a fully trained, certified, prepared instructor) and getting 60 seconds of free fall, i opted for the “serious” option of doing a 4 hour course on static line jumps.
what is static line and are you sure its not related to electricity? you might ask me.
and then you might not ask such strange questions.
but we both know you’re strange, so i’ll explain.
static line means that you’re a n00b who’s jumping off the airplane and instead of having to pull anything you just “arch” in order to practice handling yourself in the air (and other small things, like JUMPING OUT OF AN AIRPLANE AT 3000 FEET!), and the parachute is opened automatically by a static line. there is no free fall time (actually there are 5 seconds before the chute opens and its just the … well, we’ll get to feelings a bit later), but you jump away and land on your own.
upon arriving at the deathly hour of 9am (involved waking up at 6:30am , but then stalker woke up at 5:30, so i’m not the one to complain) to the “base”, i spent about an hour doing absolutely nothing except becoming more tense with some of my classmates. “just get it started already!” we said. as someone who didn’t jump before, there is a slight feeling of doubt regarding your own sanity. i kept questioning myself of “so, i’m going to jump OUT of an airplane IN flight today? am i crazy or what? and if i am crazy, that means all the people around me are faaar crazier, so let me get out of here!”. actually, its the reverse. when the class gets started, or when you talk to other people at the drop zone, you steadily get this feeling of sky diving being yet another sport – one that involves risk, but not more than say scuba diving, where you’re likely to meet some far more unpleasant personalities than the trainers at the course (which i must say were the opposite of unpleasant).
4 hours of class, lunch break, lots of training and stuff we had to memorize. there are short lists for everything, and its all very easy to remember and very difficult to do under the stress.
adrenaline hasn’t really worn off yet.
before we get started,
it was absolutely incredible
right after lunch, i met my instructor in flight, paul, who told me to drop all my personal stuff at the car (like a watch about which i completely forgot! it’d pretty suck to lose it somewhere up there. yay for great instructors!), and get into my jump suit. as you can see on the left, i looked quite smashing! what i’m DOING on the left is practicing the ARCH position – legs spread, arms open, hips forward for maximum stability in the air. this is the position you have to hold for 5 seconds after jumping out and its quite important to hold it properly as it gives you a simple, nice, “calm” (its difficult to call anything *BEFORE* the chute opening calm) chute opening. the backpack contains the parachute, which is prepacked for me by very smart, good, nice, safe people who do this kind of thing exceedingly well. it also contains a reserve chute, which i now know how to open properly and what exactly happens when it opens. also, a ground-to-air radio, which allows a “radio guy” talk to you from the ground and help you find the way to safe landing and the drop zone. there’s also a “rubber ducky”, a floatation device which is required cause there is a swamp in the vicinity.
throughout the series of buildings that are at the base, there are these wooden constructions which are demonstrated on the left. they imitate (fairly well, with one small exception) the exit of the cessna airplane off which we were jumping. i’m demonstrating fairly well a fairly poor stance for exit.
you know that small exception i just mentioned about the “exit imitators” up there? its the fact that no one comes even close to describing the wind. they say “be aggressive”, “plant your foot” and you trust them (literally) with your life. however, that tiny, tiny airplane up there (and this is on the longer end of my lens! should be said here, all photographs are courtesy stalker!) is apparently surrounded by A LOT OF MOVING AIR. yes, i know it looks calm.
its the scariest moment in the entire thing.
the flight up was interesting. i was humming “hackers – stumble you might fall”, and looking out the window, and feeling, well, smashing! simple lovely and fantastic, dahling, true!
upon thinking its my time to exit i put my hand on the door as we were taught and the door smashed on my hand.
pilot opened the door and i checked to see if i have my hand whole. i did and still do! nothing broken, just a really bad hit.
except in that point i wasn’t aware of that, i just knew it both hurt like a b…book. and at the same time my brain was entirely unconcerned with the pain in my hand. when the instructor asked if i’m feeling alright to go, my reply was “a little hurt finger isn’t going to stop me from jumping out of an airplane”.
up until the moment door opened for me, i didn’t feel really scared. i mean, i felt anxious to the maximum degree, maybe panicked a bit, maybe a bit worried, nervous.
but the moment that door opens, and you feel so tiny and so. high. up., and so… alone. i don’t mean in the “aww no one cares about me way”. that’s b/s compared to this feeling of being a speck of sand and earth so huge underneath you. the phrase “gravity always wins” comes to mind… only later. at that moment, nothing comes to mind except oh shit..
indeed, after the initial shock of seeing the earth, i aggressively thrust my left food forward (as you could see by one of the above photographs, that’s how its done), and equally aggressively the wind blew it away. on 2nd attempt, i got it. next step is grabbing the rail with your left hand.
i couldn’t do it. the wind was kicking my leg like its a bubble gum wrapper, not a material object composed of muscles and bone and connected to a wholly functional and willing human being. the instructor yelled in my ear “LEFT HAND” (not because he was angry, but because you can’t hear anything but the wind). i almost wanted to go “I KNOW!” but that’s wrong. so after trying to reach for the rail for about 3 times and literally chickening out, i just thought that i HAVE to go for it. i reached out and HELD on. apparently its feasible, as i wasn’t blown away by the wind right away – which is what i was fully expecting.
when i completed the set up the instructor went “GO” which means, that, well, i have to let go. and there is a cloud right next to us. and i freak out and think “I CANT GO INTO A CLOUD”. and he goes “GO!” again. i think i closed my eyes and let go and ARCHED.
i feel a tug.
i look up.
that’s what i see.
but its too early.
i keep looking up and arching and looking at the chute unraveling in front of my eyes, feeling the air and the wind and absolutely nothing holding me, and falling, falling, falling but it feels like flying.
the chute has opened.
there is a simple line twist that i easily kick out of.
i brake twice (pull down corners of the chute in order to fill it with air).
life didn’t flash in front of my eyes.
but i’m typing this 9 hours later and it makes me shake to realize that i’ve been up there.
upon this point the radio instructor that i have mentioned chimes in. “great job number 2! do a 180 right please. now flare flare flare for me! excellent, you’re doing great, your chute [is doing great] (i can’t for life of me remember the exact wording). keep your heading.”
i calmed down right away. i was there, and i made it perfectly, with no bumps on the airplane wing (everyone said its impossible but i kept feeling otherwise), with a fairly well done jump (i mean, i arched! what more could they possibly want?), in the air, just me and earth.
if i could describe that feeling in words, you wouldn’t need to try that at least once.
a few [units of time which i cannot describe] later, paul, the instructor passed me by with this expert chute (faster, smaller, l33t in normal language). i yelled WOOOOHOOO because that’s what i could do, and kept on flying.
as you get closer to the ground, world turns from a surreal thing which just annihilates you with joy and awe and amazement at life, to a fairly physical object that you will pretty soon have to deal with, preferably in a way that causes you no injuries.
thankfully, for n00bs like me, there is the radio! thumper, an excellent guy who made me feel at ease without even being able to hear my replies, guided me closer to the landing field. the trees begin to take on shapes, the fields begin to lose theirs, textures become bushes, and Xs become airplanes. you don’t see ants, but tiny people.
in other words, reality softly returns to your senses.
upon approach to the drop zone (i.e. where you, well, drop), you need to brake 6-10 feet above the ground, and which point, theoretically you should land on your feet. a lot of first timers didn’t – one girl did a little turn over as she pulled a bit late. some people got dragged on their butts.
i can understand why.
the ground, in someone’s immortal words, “was coming up hard and fast”.
radio called me to flare.
i did. and a few seconds later i felt the ground softly greet me – same as jumping off a chair. out of the sheer surprise of meeting the ground (i looked up, but too high up to see the ground),
i took a step forward.
and i didn’t fall.
i jumped out at 3000 feet, and landed on my feet.
i won something within me, and it makes me happy. it wasn’t easy, which makes it better. and i did it on my own. which makes it perfect.