I jumped out of an airplane last weekend. Like, skydived. Wafted from the clouds under a parachute. Almost threw up on my tandem instructor, but that's just details. Either way, I did it. See?
You see that? Yeah. Whoa. This was minutes before dry-heaving. And I'll tell you, I've never been happier to dry heave because had I actually vomited on the man who was strapped to my back whilst we drifted peacefully through the air, I'd have died all over myself. Next to the vomit. But we'll get to that.
I joined my manfriend and a few of his pals for the adventure on Sunday. He turned 30 on Monday and had never been on a plane, so, naturally, the best way to celebrate such a milestone is to jump out of a plane and hope you live to see 30 years and one day old.
We all chatted excitedly along the way and told heartwarming stories about people who've died/been paralyzed/drowned/were otherwise maimed while skydiving, and I think it really helped to set the mood. I mean, I felt better about it.
I thought the whole process of preparing to skydive lasted hours. You know, what with preparing us to freefall from an airplane at 13,500 feet, and all. I thought we'd have things to learn and strategies to comprehend and rites of passages to complete, mayhaps a sacrificial lamb and things, but in reality, we signed our lives away on a few forms, got some things strapped to our bodies and were given the name Tandem Group Charlie.
Exhibit A, Tandem Group Charlie. We're super happy here because we didn't yet know how badly we'd want to throw up later. Ah, the sweet naivete.
Exhibit B: That's me and Rick. He saved my life (see also: did his job), and I thanked him by not throwing up all over his face, which was dangerously close to the back of my head, which is attached to my body, which was very securely strapped to his.
The plane ride was pretty fabulous. It felt like a beater of a plane, and it didn't take long before we were in the clouds, at which time the videographer whipped open the plane's door so we could have some "air conditioning."
OH HEY, HI, THAT'S THE SKY.
Travis was adorably nervous and excited, and for a brief, morbid moment I thought how pissed I would be if I splattered on the ground and didn't get to see him afterward. When the videographer asked if I had any final words before jumping, I behaved exactly as the cat lady I am, and told her it was imperative that someone care for my cats upon my demise. Obviously I meant to say things like, "Love you, mom! Love you, dad!" But cats first. Every time.
Captain Rick whispered sweet nothings into my ear that were really not nothing, and were actually Very Important Life Saving Details, and it was less a whisper as it was a quiet shout over the rumble of the airplane, but I wanted this to feel a little risque for a minute, so work with me. It was something about dangling my legs outside of the plane, hugging my arms to my chest, and smiling one last time for the camera, but it all washed away from my mind as I realized I was about to jump out the open door of an airplane, and as he was yanking on straps that secured me quite tightly in awkwardly intimate places. I was probably blushing, but I don't know, it's all too much for my mind to process because I was busy thinking about how I might die and WHO WOULD FEED CHICKEN AND HARLEY?
But before I knew it, we'd scooted our safely-secured-and-connected butts to the edge of the waiting door, and I let my legs dangle into the wide open sky. I remember worrying for a half second that my shoes (my running shoes, no less) were going to fly off and HOW WOULD I RUN? But quickly reminded myself that first I needed to not die, and we'd worry about the smelly, old shoes later.
The whole about-to-leap-from-a-plane moment was brief, but exhilarating as hell. Everything was loud and blowing and I wanted to try and wave goodbye to Travis, but everything was moving so quickly, and I had no idea at what point Captain Rick was going to shove us out the door. I hardly remembered to cross my arms over my chest, and I certainly forgot to wave goodbye to the camera. But none of it mattered because before I knew it, this:
YOU GUYS. I JUMPED FROM AN AIRPLANE.
I don't know how to even describe or if I can even remember exactly how the freefall felt other than a string of loud noises and expletives and maybe a little like your head was going to explode. Have you ever just fallen from the sky? Because it's sort of indescribable. You fall so fast and so hard (like all my relationships in my twenties, which, coincidentally, also made me feel like my head was going to explode and ended in nausea). The videographer was a couple feet in front of us and snapped probably a hundred photos of the freefall, which makes it look like it lasted forever, but in reality lasted probably less than a minute. The most ridiculously intense minute of all time. I remember everything being loud and fast. Super eloquent, huh?
"Krista, what was it like to freefall through the beautiful sky above the clouds?"
"Loud and fast, and then I wanted to puke."
But these are facts, you guys. I can't make up facts. But I can show you how awesome it looked.
I'm trying hard to remember the awesomeness of that minute of loud, fast, head exploding because as soon as he pulled the cord for the parachute, it all went downhill. Rather quickly. But at least it looked amazing while it happened.
And so begins the descent into nausea.
When the chute opened and we were ripped out of freefall and blasted directly into the center of the atmosphere, I was fully prepared for all the magic of floating under a parachute. Thing I was not prepared for: wanting to throw up.
Here's the thing: I get motion sick. It's a thing that happens. I can't even swing on the playground without feeling woozy. Why it didn't strike me as a possibility while skydiving is beyond me. But as soon as we dipped below the clouds and the temperature spiked about 20 degrees, it all unraveled for me.
Rick was doing what they're supposed to do -- twirling and swirling and floating and spinning, and I was doing the best I could to look at the pretty, pretty scenery and fight the rising nausea. Out loud I expressed how beautiful the whole thing was, because really, it was amazing. But in my head I had "don't throw up, don't throw up, don't throw up, screw you and your swirly, twirly floating" on repeat.
As we neared landing, and I tried to remember all the things I had to remember -- namely, don't break your legs, the nausea became overwhelming. I told him I didn't feel well, and he tried his damnedest to stay cheery and tell me we were close to landing.
So what'd I do? Dry heaved. I actually gagged. And this is where I thank my lucky stars I barely had a breakfast because I know I'd have thrown right up. RIGHT UP. All over. And god, you guys, you just have no idea .WHAT IF I'D THROWN UP ON HIM. In the air? While he's minding his own goddamn business and keeping me from falling to the earth in a death spiral?
But then I remembered the videographer waiting for me on the ground. I paid $80 to have her come along and snap photos and video of the experience, and I was about to THROW UP. She was going to accost me when I landed to chat excitedly about my maiden skydive voyage and I WAS GOING TO THROW UP ON FILM.
In the 37 seconds it took to dry heave and then land (quite peacefully) on the ground, I rifled through 97 scenarios in my head, deciding exactly which one would be less horrifying. How can I make puking look endearing? Should I puke away from the camera? Should I wait until I'm unstrapped and smile first?
I didn't have time to come up with the perfect scenario because, as expected, as soon as we landed, she was in front of me with the camera asking all about it. I, however, couldn't move. I sat right on my ass, right on the ground. I've seen other videos. When people land, they jump and holler and celebrate. THAT WAS AMAZING, they yell. I, however, was quite content on my ass, pale as hell, sweaty as hell, and trying harder than I've ever tried not to throw up.
When I watch the video, I can see it. I can see the sweat and the pale and the way I swallow, trying so hard to hold off. I may be more impressed with my ability to abstain from vomiting than I am of my ability to jump from an airplane.
I saw Travis land behind me (unknowing at that point that he was in worse shape than me), and I just wanted to be unstrapped and crawling on the ground toward him. But as soon as I moved, NOPE. Nope! Not moving. Oh, the motion sickness. It was so overwhelming.
Eventually I did get my ass off the ground, wandered over to Travis, and together we commiserated over our mutual sickness. Before that, of course, I got one more photo with Rick after we were no longer connected by the butts.
When all is said and done (and after laying on the ground for an hour, continuing to fight the pukies), I'm so happy to have done it. That's a bucket list item right there. Something I was never opposed to, but also something I don't think I'd ever have sought out on my own, which makes me even happier that the opportunity fell into my lap. I'm fairly certain I'll never experience anything like it again (I'm flying in a plane next month, and am pretty positive I won't have to jump out; fingers crossed). As a whole, it was amazing. The sky and clouds and loud and fast and floating and adrenaline and screaming. All of it. Will I do it again?
LOLOLOL OMG NO.
But will I ever, ever forget it?
And that makes me happy.