Thursday, July 23, 2009
Best Day Ever: Sky Diving and Super Rica
So Saturday, July 18, was my big day jumping out of a plane from 18,000 feet. I was doing it at Skydive Santa Barbara. I was actually really excited about driving up to Santa Barbara by myself, making it this sort of pilgrimage of courage. My parents refused to let me drive and take such a leap of faith without some guidance and company. So my mom joined me. It's been a really interesting year and I wanted to make this symbolic gesture to mark my growth from all that has occurred these past months by flinging myself from a plane from thousands of feet above ground. People have asked me why there wasn't some other way to be symbolic. :D
I rented a car last Friday after work. This was my first time driving since my car was totaled in March. I left the rental lot, headed to the gas station, and within seconds witnessed a car accident in front me. I can't escape them. Anyway, I shook that off, got gas, and headed home. Driving seemed easy again. I went to bed relatively early... that's a lie. I went to bed around 4am after spending all evening on youtube watching ballet videos to inspire me. Finally went to bed. I woke up, picked up my mother from her house and headed towards Lompoc, CA a town one hour north of Santa Barbara. Nothing too special about Lompoc, except for the US Naval Base and Penitentiary. But I could tell that once up in the air, the views from 18,000 feet would be magnificent. So I started to prepare for my journey: watched a safety video, filled out legal paperwork, and all that jazz when I realized something. I turned to my mother and asked, "Mom, why don't you jump with me?!" I have had discussions with my mom about her dreams of flying and her urge in her youth to skydive. She showed signs of reluctance, but not disdain to the idea. So I continued, "MOM! You have to jump!!!!" It took me all of about five minutes and running across the street to Ross to buy her some $17 tennis shoes before she said "ALRIGHT!" I couldn't believe it. She was going to jump from 13,500 feet. The clouds, from this height, are below you. OMG!
So my mom wore a parachute suit, I wore my regular clothes so that I could get that raw feeling of falling. We boarded the small plane. Both of us felt extremely calm. Not sure why. I felt safe. The guy who was jumping with me had done this around 9,000 times. The guy who was jumping with my mom, he just had his four year anniversary the month prior and had actually jumped naked on his special day. But unlucky for my mom, he was fully clothed when they jumped together.
I'm really not sure how to describe the feeling of saying "I love you" to your mother just before she's about to jump out of a plane. There's really no way to describe seeing your mother jump out a plane period. It's surreal. The whole day I was laughing hysterically from nervousness and total disbelief that I was actually crazy enough to do this and then when my mom decided to join, I had my hand over my mouth just giggling. My mom is just like me....or rather, I am just like her. Who would have thought? I giggled the entire plane ride.
Once my mom jumped it meant it was my turn to fly. But first the plane had to reach our height of 18,000 feet which meant we had to slap on the oxygen masks. When you hit 14,000 feet, oxygen changes and gets thinner, making it harder to breathe. I wore my oxygen mask upside down and was unaware of this until my guide said "Ok... time to jump. And by the way, your mask is on wrong."
I was the only person the entire day who jumped from this height. I found this out before I jumped and felt really special.
Jumping out of a plane.... hmmm. Yeah. No words can describe it. Your stomach is in your mouth, no doubt, but it's a great feeling. I felt totally helpless and out of control and for me, that's an accomplishment. I liked it. I liked this "not-knowing" feeling. For about 40 seconds I was free-falling at 120 miles per hour. It's unreal. The ground seemed sooo far away, but that at any second you could be colliding with it. I just couldn't grasp the reality of all this. Once the parachute imploded, we were falling at 10 mph and I felt like a bird. I could see the ocean, wild flower fields, just beauty all around. It was so quiet; the kind of quiet you never know actually exists until you experience it. Quiet, no noise, you can only hear the parachute wave in the breeze. It's the only kind of quiet that nature offers you when you become one with it.
I hit the ground with a new sense of self. When you do something this extreme, you realize that anything is possible. I'm already researching a new adventure. My mother thought the experience was a scream and can't wait to do it again with my dad for their 40th anniversary in May! I can't believe how cool they are. My mother and I celebrated with tequila shots and drove back to Santa Barbara to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Super Rica and stuffed our faces. It was the most exquisite day ever.
I can't wait to post my video... I need to first get a friend to transfer files and all that jazz.