Holy crap! Skydiving is nuts. Absolutely nuts! You can’t imagine it, you can’t visualize it, you won’t understand what it’s like until you actually do it.
I went to Ellington with Dave yesterday to meet up with about 5 others who were also jumping with us. Dave and I never been to Ellington airport, so we had to GPS it. After 58 minutes of driving, we came upon a long dirt road with a sign for skydiving out front.
That was on the sign. It didn’t exactly set my mind at ease.
Me – “Where are the planes?”
Dave – “Don’t know.”
We kept following the dirt road and came to another old withered sign that had SKYDIVING sloppily written out with red ink and an arrow pointing us in the right direction.
Me – “Well this is sketchy.”
Dave – “Ha ha, yeah.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but Ellington is flagged for having the most deaths in CT for skydiving.
We parked the car in a field and walked over to the main registration area. Everything was done outside, the registration, the two minute demonstration, suiting up and waiting for your turn.
They set out food for the jumpers. It felt like a picnic. I smoked a bunch of cigarettes and drank a Red Bull for wings.
I’ve gotten absolutely no sleep the night before. I was out of it and jittery.
I watched everyone jump before me. I was the last one to go in our group. Nobody I knew shared the plane ride up with me. I was the lone soldier off to face death with a man strapped to my back and a tummy full of spew.
The weather was fantastic. There was not one cloud in the sky and the man strapped to me was a wise old soul. He was very calming and genuine and made me feel comforted.
Fear only set in on the plane ride up. My ears started to block and I felt dizzy. The fear hit me the same time the nausea did. In order to overcome the panic, I had no choice but to use my incredible ability to compartmentalize. I put the situation in a small, vacuum-sealed box and completely detached myself from it. What I was really experiencing was nothing more than a dream. I was re-living a flash-back – it already happened and I was conjuring the images from memory.
I first learned about this from the movie Fight Club and yesterday was the first time I had to use the detachment technique. And crazy as it sounds, without the panic or fear, everything became more vivid and clear. I thought being detached would dull my senses and smudge the experience into a hazy vague remembrance, but just the opposite happened. I was there and I was present, but watching instead of living it.
Once we reached 700 feet, my instructor put his leg around me and buckeled me into him. The smell in the cabin was of fear, excitement and body odor (I don’t think they ever wash the jump suits).
The experienced jumpers lifted up the sliding plastic door and a burst of noisy wind infiltrated the cabin bringing about a sense of urgency.
We reached 1400 ft and the first jumpers leapt out giving a thumbs up and all smiles. A girl sitting across from me screamed.
Girl – “Oh my god! Can they do that? Can they just jump out like that?”
She let her panic overcome her and listening to her confused me.
‘Of course they can do that. That’s why they’re here.’
The jumpers tumbled out of the plane like marbles being shaken out of a tin can. One by one, no hesitation from the experienced crew. Then came the tentative tandum jumpers.
Girl – “This is it already? This is really it?”
Guy – “This is it, just lift your legs.”
Girl – “Oh my god oh my god.”
And out she went, tumbling and screaming.
Then it was my turn. The wind coming into the cabin was intense and it made me want to jump just to get away from the noise. And outside was so beautiful compared to the cramped little grey cabin I stood hunched in. The way down was completely clear. The sky bright and beckoning. I lifted my feet, held onto my shoulder straps and out we went.
I didn’t panic, but I was scared in those first few twisting turning moments before I stabilized. I don’t usually get scared (I panic mostly). Being scared is an emotion that clouds your thinking and I’m not accustomed to handling it. I’m accustomed to panic because I felt it so much from my fear of the dark and my hypochondria. I’m accustomed to worry and anxiety, but being just plain scared for my life is new to me. I labeled the emotion I was having and regained composure. I arched my back, lifted my chin and let my center of gravity steady the fall in a controlled way. The wind and the noise were so intense that that is what I remember most about the fall.
I was now falling, screaming and falling. Breathing became difficult only because there was so much air being forced up my nose with every breath, that it was easier not to inhale. But then I thought to myself ‘when am I ever going to get the chance to gulp down this much oxygen into my lungs? It can’t hurt me.’ I started filling my lungs and it calmed me down.
After that, that’s when I was able to look straight down to the ground and become completely aware of what was happening.
‘Holy shit I’m actually falling to the ground. I’m falling to the ground. I’m dropping from the sky and someone else has the parachute. The ground is right there! What the fuck am I doing?’
People say that the free fall goes by way too fast. That they don’t remember most of it and it’s just a blur. For me it was the opposite. Every second bubbled up into every dimension of my waking being. It felt like we were falling forever and I started to wonder about the chute.
The chute opened and tangled a bit before catching the wind. I felt it tangle, but thought it was normal so I didn’t freak out.
Since I’m relatively light, the pull of the chute didn’t hurt. Either that or there was too much adrenaline to feel it. The only place I felt it was in my boobs. The strap around my stomach ended up around my chest and it hurt at first.
It was all down hill from there. After the parachute deployed, the float down was four or five minutes and very enjoyable. I kept staring at my legs dangling in mid-air and playing with the idea that there’s no ground beneath me. I also played with the handles of the chute, swerving left to right.
My new worry was the landing. I didn’t want to hurt my tail bone if we had to land on our backsides. I bruised my tailbone once before and it takes a shit-long time to heal.
Instructor – “Okay lift your legs up.”
I lifted them, but the ground came up so slowly and we were leg distance away from it.
Instructor – “No actually put your legs down. We’re doing a standing land.”
And that’s just what we did. I didn’t stumble forward or land hard on my feet. It was the perfect landing. The instructor let out an audible “Yes!” Landing on your feet is difficult to do so when it can be done, it’s a big triumph.
I ran over to Dave and the others as soon as I was unstrapped. I wanted to run around in circles, I had so much energy. Dave shot a video of me running to him and interviewing my reaction. He posted it on Facebook, but I can’t figure out how to post the video here. Facebook won’t let me do it.
Anyway, that was the first part of my day. After skydiving, Dave and I went to a little dive bar in Ellington purely because it had the word ‘Tavern’ in its title. Both of us like taverns – they’re quaint.
We ate ham sandwiches, played pool and drank beers. We made friends with the old drunk yokels and became hero’s to them simply because we went skydiving. The bartender loved us and kept giving us free shots. It was only 1 pm on a beautiful Sunday and I was already drunk. I had to switch to water so I could drive.
I drove to my house to grab my swim suit and pair of shorts for Dave. Lisa invited us over to swim.
Lisa’s friendly (yet slightly perverted) neighbor came over and gave us pot. I drank more beer, Lisa made food for us and then we went swimming in the community pool. I was so tired from lack of sleep, drunk and high and had so much fun in that damned swimming pool that I felt like a stupid little kid playing.
After the pool, Lisa’s neighbor taken us for a ride in his jeep. We went off roading in a muddy, woodsy part of town. I never been off roading, but didn’t think there would be so many damned tree’s to dodge.
Lisa was scared, and I think Dave was too. I held onto the ‘oh shit’ handle bars and relaxed my body to avoid any whiplash if we were to crash or roll over. It was the second time that day I was fearful for my life.
Everyone was tired when we got back. I had to meet Matt at Billy O’s because he was mad at me for not spending time with him, so I couldn’t blow him off again.
I went to Billy O’s. Kristie and Bosco were there. Kristie was not glad to see me.
I sense when turning points happen in relationships and it happened a few weeks ago with Kristie. I chose to go see a concert with Dave instead of seeing a movie with her. I knew it was the beginning of the end. I always know shit like that.
I should’ve trusted my first impression of her instead of giving her a chance. My first impression was that she was needy, crazy and jealous – a text book narcissist. As soon as her narcissistic supply runs dry, she cuts that person out of her life and goes on to the next – but with hurt and animosity in her heart. It’s a horrible way to live. And most everyone does it to some extent. I on the other hand put up with these people until I’m about ready to crack myself.
Kristie had completely cut me out. She stopped responding to my texts, blocked me on facebook and was cold toward me at Billy’s. I was baffled. I wasn’t hurt by any of it because I knew she was crazy from the start. I had done nothing wrong except hang out with Dave instead of her. I invited her to hang out with us, but she refused. If she wasn’t invited, that’s a legitimate reason to be upset at me. But I did invite her. She also cut Dave out of her life completely.
The entire time at the bar, she was whispering to Bosco about me. I could actually feel her negative energy toward me. I’m an empath and nothing slips by me. She did not speak one word to me, but I still felt the negative energy grow and grow and knew at any moment she was going to have a tantrum. I witnessed this happen many times before by other people (K flipping out in Nepal for one).
And I was right. She made a scene with Bosco and wanted to leave. She couldn’t take another second of being around me. I was just sitting there laughing with Matt, minding my own business. Bosco didn’t want to leave, but apparently they’re dating now, so they left together. She stormed out before Bosco paid the tab. I really like Bosco, so it kind of sucks that she’s doing this.
Girls are catty and mean and can turn on their friends in a heartbeat. It’s a lesson I keep having to learn over and over.
Matt met a girl named Jill last week. I don’t like to use the term ‘ugly’ when describing someone, but she was. She was 29, overweight and quite literally insane (100 times worse than Kristie). She followed Matt to the bar and refused to leave.
She was overly friendly with me, being super nice, but then things got weird.
Jill – “Well, I can see you have company that you’d rather spend time with so I’ll leave you two alone. I’ll be sitting over there if you want to come join me.”
She was talking to Matt. Asking him to ditch me to sit with her.
She sat there for about two hours getting shit-faced. She was completely alone and sitting there watching people play pool.
Me – “Did you come with her? This is weird, I should leave.”
Matt – “Why do you care if I came with her? Me and you are just friends.”
Me – “No I mean I think if you came here with her than it’s rude to just leave her there sitting by herself.”
Matt – “Oh. No, I didn’t come here with her. She text me asking where I was and told her. I didn’t know she’d turn out to be crazy.”
Jill comes back over and gets overly friendly with me, being nice with veiled stabs at me.
Jill – “I would never go skydiving. I pray for people like you, I really do.”
I look down and away.
Me – “Well, I think I should head out.”
Matt – “Oh what, you’re going to leave me again? If you leave right now I will be very upset.”
I stayed simply because I didn’t want to lose another friend. It’s becoming such a trend with me.
Jill – “Yes please stay! If you leave now I will follow you to your house and stalk you. I will sit in your driveway and haunt you forever. I’ll never leave you alone.”
She said some other stuff that got me scared. The girl was plainly insane. She went back over to her chair near the pool table, sat down and shot daggers at my back until the bar closed.
It was the third time that day I been scared for my life.
Matt tried getting me into his car after the bar closed.
Me – “No no that’s entrapment. Once I’m in, I’m in. I have a hard time getting out.”
Guys like to sit with girls in cars after the bar closes. I prefer going home most of the time. Talking after hours in a car about stupid shit just aint for me.
Matt – “Oh come on don’t be like that.”
Me – “Be like what? We’re just friends. I don’t want to lead you on, you know?”
I was so tired. I only drank two beers at the bar so my drunkenness wore off. My high wore off. I got no sleep the night before and skydiving seemed like centuries ago.
Matt – “Just do me a favor and stop being adorable. It will make it easier to be your friend.”
Me – “Okay, that shouldn’t be too hard.”
Matt – “It’s weird. It’s like the things I love about you are the same things I hate about you.”
I knew exactly what he meant. I see it too. I can’t be won over by anything and it frustrates the hell out of people.
Matt just inherited a lot of money and wants to buy a house. I’m enthusiastic and happy for him, but stuff like that doesn’t phase me. It doesn’t effect me. Money to me means adventure and freedom. I respect it, but I don’t love it. And it can never bring me freedom if I’m living on someone else’s coat tails.
It’s days later since then. I’ve been working on setting up my office and procrastinating. Today I have to build my website. I have to. I have nothing keeping me from it. Not until later at least. When the bar calls.
But so far today all I’ve done is eat, play video games and finish typing up this long-ass post. I get side-tracked so easily it scares me. I have no control of it. Things get a hold of me and it’s impossible to carry on.
- Sky high: Skydiving an adrenaline-filled, peaceful experience (thegazette.com)
- My first skydiving experience (chembelle.wordpress.com)
- Googlers skydive wearing Google Glasses, broadcast jump live to Google+ (arstechnica.com)
- Are you facing your Fears? (blissfulblurbs.wordpress.com)
- Woman’s Skydiving Trip From Hell (abcnews.go.com)
- You’ll Never Want to Skydive After Watching This [Video] (gizmodo.com)
- Skydive Horror! Jump Goes Wrong For 80 Year Old Lady (badassdigest.com)
- Skydiver, 81, who survived mishap: ‘Knitting is boring’ (today.msnbc.msn.com)
- Skydive!!!! – Mission Beach, Australia (travelpod.com)