As anyone who friends me on Facebook has already heard - I took my Beloved (Ron) skydiving for his 70th birthday. Yes, I went with him - me, the girl who gets woozy standing on a 3 foot step ladder. Shocking, right?????
So why did I go?
Because, it was Beloved's birthday, of course. I knew that skydiving, in and of itself, was a minor issue. I knew that the true gift would be my going with him, and you see - I love him that much. He stretches me. Without him, I would be an old broad sitting in front of the television watching "House Hunters International" (okay, fine - I already DO watch House Hunters International...but definitely in smaller increments.)
Anyway, I made a promise to myself that I would do one scary thing a year. This will definitely fit the bill for this year - and maybe it will be leveraged as good for a few years to come...haha.
So, it was truly a crazy idea. Beloved has actually has never had the desire to skydive. Hard to believe, I know - I mean what WON'T the man do? Well, for many years, it turns out that jumping out of a plane was one of them....but a few months ago he said to me "I'm turning 70. Seems like I ought to go skydiving to mark the occasion." I thought that was an invitation to arrange it, so I decided 'what the heck." In the meantime Ron immediately forgot he had even said such a crazy thing outloud....so I knew it would be a GREAT......BIG.......SURPRISE.
I thought it a great plan - until I came up with the further thought of "oh, oh - its almost time for me to do a new 'scary'....which means I had better go too."
Last Saturday was the day! I found a local company that actually has what they call 'sunset' dives. Awesome! What could be more perfect?
Still didn't tell Ron. I just told him to "get in the car" as I grabbed a prepared bag consisting of long pants, real shoes (as opposed to the flip flops that we normally wear) and socks.
It took about 40 minutes to get there. He said he figured it out as we started approaching the airport.
At that point he figured I'd give him a kiss and wave bye-bye - so he was really surprised when I started suiting up with him. His eyes got really big, but he said nothing. Ron usually says nothing when he's surprised.
For the next hour we were run through the process of preparing. We watched one of those 'you could die in these 1,000s of ways' movie; handed a form that literally required around 25 signatures stating that 'yes' we knew we could die, 'yes' we know it's dangerous, 'no' we will not sue, 'no' neither will our children, 'no' neither would our attorney, 'yes' if we do we're going to lose because we signed 25 times saying we knew we couldn't, 'yes' we know that we're going to be strapped to another human being who would really prefer to live through the experience also so we agree to follow what they tell us to do to the letter, etc., etc., etc.
Then we waited. There were enough
Ron promptly fell asleep.
I worked at thinking happy thoughts.
After 30 minutes, our plane landed from the first group and swung to a stop in front of us. From there everything went rather quickly. We loaded up into an old propeller plane. There were two benches. Each person straddled the bench. There were 3 free divers, and 3 sets of tandem divers.
It took about 5 - 7 minutes to reach altitude. Our instructors then started attaching us to them and cinching up the straps.
It felt like this:
I remember thinking to myself "well, THIS is uncomfortable ..... in so many ways. Talk about up close and personal!
Oh well, who had time to worry about it? Pretty soon crazy people started jumping out of the plane and falling through the sky like dead chickens. Sorry, that's what I thought. Maybe I shouldn't share.
My guy, Joe said "time to go" and we slid to the door. "Dangle your toes out over the edge" says Joe.
"REALLY?????" says I? I was positive my brain would never let my feet do it, but it did! I crouched down as low as a old broad can go and 1.....2.....3...... I was flying! With a big guy strapped to my back.....and immediately after I started breathing again, the thought that hit me was very simply......."OUCH!!!!!!"""
It was FREEZING! I mean really, really freezing!.
Second thought....."OUCH"!!!!! It turns out that those straps hurt in really uncomfortable places. Whoa! What the heck?
Third thought......"holy crud, my eardrums are going to burst". Hadn't factored in that those little eardrums had gone though a whole lot in their lives, including a week of being sick just prior to the big day, and they clearly were not too thrilled with the startling change of air pressure.
I knew that I needed to equalize them as quickly as possible. Turns out, falling through the sky at the rate of speed we were going, as well as being strapped body and soul to some 'duuuuude' who clearly didn't understand that such extreme strapping might limit my range of motion in ways that would not be convenient, made it very challenging to even get my hand over to my nose so that I could clear my exploding ears.
It took a few seconds, therefore - but once I did - SWEET RELIEF! For a few more seconds. All in all, I had to repeat the action about 6 times - but I was good with that, because it felt wonderful when I did.
In the meantime, the freefall experience was due to end and the floating under a canopy experience was due to commence. One.....two.......three......PLUNK, and........then ."Yeeee-----OUCH".
If I thought the strap was uncomfortable before, that was nothing compared to now - as I was literally hanging off of it.
"Put your knees up and you'll feel much better', Joe yelled.
Okay, okay - it looks like I wasn't having a very good time, but interspersed with all of these physical challenges was the fact that I was being treated visually to one of the most spectacular scenes I have ever witnessed.....I was literally 2.5 miles (and descending rather quickly) over a gorgeous lush green tropical island surrounded by the sparkling ocean that practically glows at sunset (well - 20 minutes BEFORE sunset - but timing wise, it was pretty crazy perfect) so I worked really hard to keep looking around and paying attention.
|Ron will have to demonstrate the view as he is the one who got the picture package - pretty awesome, yes?|
Even when the biggest challenge hit around 2 seconds after the yank of the ripcord....
......and I became immediately airsick....I mean my stomach looped-de-looped like a circus performer. I've always been blessed with the fact that I rarely get physically sick - and this was no different (much to Joe's relief) but MAN, I am 100% positive I turned the deepest shade of green, let me tell ya.
So the remaining 4 minutes of our descent went like this:
Yell "ouch", pinch nose to clear my ears, blow out of my mouth 3 times (to reduce the nausea), look around and say "woo hoo", yell "ouch", try to lift my knees, pinch, blow......repeat - over and over again.
Until we started circling down to the landing field.
"Okay," Joe yelled. "We're going in! LIFT YOUR KNEES REALLY HIGH"!
"I'll try," I replied weakly.
Didn't happen. I mean, literally it didn't happen.....and I definitely did try. I mean, I run 3 times a week. I go to the gym. I do crunches and back lifts and I really work out - but those knees weren't going ANYWHERE.
And so when we hit the ground, my feet went immediately behind me, the ground came towards me and I went flat on my face - and because there was no other choice, Joe landed right on top of me - like SMACKO, as if I was hit by a gigantic flyswatter.
"Are you okay," he yelled? And may I just mention, he sounded REAAAAALY ANNOYED.
"I'm still breathing. I'm going to live", I said - but what I WANTED to say was "though what does it matter, Joe, because obviously I'm not gonna sue you....riiiiiight?"
He unclipped as quickly as he could, uncovered us both, and then hauled my sad butt up off the ground.
"Thank you Joe," I said sincerely and headed somewhat sideways for the fence, which I used to pull myself back towards the office because Holy Hannah was I one sick puppy!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am now even 2 days later feeling like a smushed bug. I mean, EVERYTHING hurts and my stomach is still doing loop-de-loops. But I've told Ron, as soon as all these aches and pains leave, I am going to be really glad I did this.
I really, really am!
Oh, I should share Ron's adventure. His guy had them flip their way out of the plane (see?) and when they banked and turned, it was more of a roller coaster ride - zoom, zippy, flippy. And when they landed, they landed on their feet - picture perfect - of course.
"Did you like it," I asked?
"It was 'cool'," he replied. Except his safety googles were too tight.
There ya go. So very Ron.