She’s a good girl, loves her mama…
My faith in my own disbelief in a higher power was reaffirmed yesterday as a teeny plane took me and Rob to 8,000 feet in preparation to drop us from the sky. I wondered whether the chute was packed right, and what would happen if I wasn’t harnessed tightly enough to the instructor. And the same about Rob’s harness and chute.
At no point did I think, “Oh please, please God (or anyone), let our chutes open, don’t let us die.” I wasn’t worried for myself if I died, but for my poor mother, who told me later she had a terrible feeling of dread the night before.
Not to bury the lead, but our chutes opened and we landed safely, Rob on his feet, me on my butt because my legs didn’t seem to hold me. So I just sat down on the grass.
I can’t brag that I jumped out of a plane, because you can’t actually jump from a seated position, can you? The plane was so small we sat on the floor. And if Rob showed any trepidation, it was over the lack of the door on the plane and the possibility that he might fall out. We weren’t strapped to our professionals yet.
After a 15-minute ascent, they had us put our on neoprene hoods (mine bore a Maple leaf) and goggles, and buckled us to their harnesses. They unrolled the flap that covered the gaping hole in the side of the plane and had Rob dangle his legs out the plane, his instructor behind him. I thought, “I wonder what it will be like to watch my beloved fall from an airplane.”
And there he went, tumbling through the sky a few times before he was out of my line of sight. One time he jumped through a window from a stairwell outside Western’s performing arts center. I thought he was going to die and told him never to do that again. This didn’t feel like that.
Rob said later that he thought there’d be more prep time, but no, you just roll on out the plane.
Then it was my turn. It was windier than I anticipated when I had my legs out the door. And there was a lot of Abbotsford, B.C., below me. And nothing to catch me. If I felt five seconds of fear, it was probably then. But it wasn’t terror so much as “Whoa my god (the lowercase kind). Am I really doing this?”
We tumbled out of the plane, I saw the sky above me for a moment before realizing that it didn’t feel so much like plummeting toward the earth at 120 mph as much as it felt like wind rushing past my face like when you stick your head out a really fast moving car.
It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. Rob said later, “You know when you’re on a roller coaster and you’re about to fall really fast and your heart jumps in your throat?”
“It didn’t feel like that.”
So we rushed through the air for 35 seconds and then the chute opened and I was vertical, danging in front of Gerry (the professional) and floating through the sky.
“Where’s Rob at?” I asked, adding a superfluous preposition to that question for the first time in my entire life.
Gerry pointed out Rob’s green chute and steered us toward him. Rob took pictures of me. (with a disposable camera, because for some reason he didn’t want to take his video camera up with him.)
This too, did not feel like I thought it would. It wasn’t like flying, but almost like standing still, with a harness between my legs, holding me upright, as green and purple trees and mountains and rivers got closer and closer.
“Bellingham’s over that way,” Gerry said, but I couldn’t really tell where he was pointing.
I saw Rob hit the gravel landing pad, running forward as he was told to, his white Reeboks unnaturally bright next to his army green jumpsuit and jacket.
He took my picture as I came in for my landing on the grass next to the landing pad, plopping down on my butt.
I bet those skydiving dudes are tired of people going “It’s amazing!” “Beautiful!” “Incredible!” or whatever.
So I don’t have an original superlative to use here. It kicked ass.
Just asked Rob what one word he’d use and he said, “Jubilation.”
So let’s hear it for Vancouver Skydive. And the border guard who asked me (because his passport was stolen) whether I knew for a fact that Rob is a U.S. citizen. Come to think of it, that ratty army-green jacket of his dad’s does makes him look like a terrorist.
Oh, and there was a dude going up right after us whose girlfriend bought him the jump for his 30th birthday. But she was staying on the ground.