“Which one of you goes by the name Sarah?”
“That would be me”
“Awesome, My names Paul and you’ll be risking your life with me today”
Those are the scripted words my Tandem Skydive Instructor spoke, hilarious but also made that nervous giggle come about. I wasn’t nervous booking, signing my life away or driving to Sky Dive City. I wasn’t really any emotion other than excited and curious to see if I would have Cataplexy mid air. Paul grabbed me a harness and I stood about while we got rather up close and personal tightening and adjusting each strap.
“I think this one goes like this”
“Wonderful, is that an educated guess?”
“No, I learned everything I know on YouTube so it’s pretty accurate”
“YouTubes great for this stuff haha”
He tightened a few things, asked how tight it felt and asked me to do a few motions to make sure it was the right fit. Paul then walked me through a few of the steps we would take, seeing as he would be strapped in behind me the next little bit were going to be rather close.
“We are going to be sitting on a bench, you in front of me, straddling the bench. We will fly up to 13500 ft and I’ll then attach us to one another.”
“Basically I’ll be your little spoon”
“Unwillingly yes you will aha.”
He then went through the hand gestures he would be putting in front of my face. The different positions we needed to be in to walk to the opening in the plane where we would jump. The position we jump in, head back arms holding on the harness. Then the 3 taps that I would feel once we took the leap of faith. Three taps means bring your arms up, and your feet back…the fun begins. We would turn/spin and then James Bond fly through the air. From there he would give me the reins and I could do what I please for the rest of the free fall.
Paul stuck out his finger and said
“This is the most important, it’s the international sign for pull your parachute.”
“I HAVE TO PULL IT? That’s not safe”
“Well if you don’t do it within the time span I ask you too I have ability to pull it too”
“That’s safe, I can deal with that”
We then did another check on the harness, making sure it was tight where it should be and loose in the one spot for the jolt from pulling the chute. Time for the plane ride where more unsure giggles from myself happened. Scripted jokes were then told by both Paul and Maples Tandem Jump Instructor Elias and of course more jokes about there experience in skydiving. Regardless I wasn’t nervous, even looking out the plane as we got higher and higher reaching the clouds. I was worried I would freak out at the ledge, I was worried I would forget one of the many symbols we went over but I was excited. Everyone in the plane was pumped, handshakes happened all the way around and then they all back flipped out, spiraled out or held onto the side of the plane and drifted away. It was exhilarating to watch.
I turned to Maple, stuck my pinky out for our ritual pinky promise for just about everything in our life.
“Pinky promise you’ll see me at the bottom alive”
From there Paul and I squat walked attached to one another to the ledge, his final words before the jump...
“This is the closest you’ll ever get to this side of heaven, enjoy it”
I looked down and through the haze of clouds you could see the green specks of land. I didn’t feel nauseous it honestly just looked surreal.
We leaned forward, leaned back, the leaned forward, and like that we jumped out.
The first seconds were the feeling of falling, that feeling you get on the way down on a rollercoaster. It lasted maybe 3 seconds, and then it was just pure bliss. It felt like flying, it felt like floating, and it was Earth like I’ve never seen or felt it before. The air felt different to breath, the silence was oddly soothing. We spun right, we spun left, and we flew through the sky. It was the quickest yet slowest minute of my life. Parachute symbol came into my peripherals, so I felt my harness all the way down to my side and found the pull. I pulled straight forward, and just like that we were jolted into a different kind of floating.
The next minute was spent turning in circles making sure I saw everything I just jumped over. Practiced our landing technique and took ourselves over into the landing area. Slow left, then a quick left and we floated down, legs up ready to slide in on our bums.
Safe and sound and on the ground in one piece. No adrenaline rush, no cataplexy, just pure ecstasy.