plummeting towards the earth

so skydiving was an experience… to say the least. in retrospect, i am very glad that i went through with the adventure.  it challenged my need to always be in control, be prepared and be rehearsed. 
a summary of events… i was picked up by skydive hawaii at 7am on friday, february 19th.  the van was full with a few koreans (who didn’t speak english), and then 2 other guys. we sat there is silence… felt like an eternity… for about an hour until we arrived at the dillingham airfield near the north shore in oahu.  upon arrival i went looking for frank… i had spoke to him earlier in the week about people with scoliosis who wanted to skydive, and he had a few suggestions.  anyways found frank, he was totally low key, wanted me to wait until after 10am to jump, as it would be easier on my landing if the winds were 10-15 km/hr.  i latched onto one of the guys from the van, 20 yr old dave king, from adelaide, australia. aeeing as I like to be prepared, i’d already read the 10 page sign-your-life-away waiver online – so I just sat beside dave and summarized it for him.  the jist… if you die, oh well… if they touch you inappropriately, oh well… if you injury yourself, oh well… if you are personally traumatized by the whole situation, OH WELL.  dave seemed hesitant like me, but hell we were both there and prepared for the adventure. i talked him into waiting until 10am, so that we would jump together! we spent the next few hours watching people jump and land successfully.  the weather was so-so, off and on rainy bits, but the skydiving people were convinced that the weather would clear. in the few hours wait, i went pee non-step – i was absolutely terrified that i would pee my panties during the free fall lol.   finally, our jump was posted and i was paired up with shaun (tandem instructor) and ben (photographer).  thankfully dave was posted as #1… meaning he jumped first, and I was next.  the next thing you know, shaun came and found me, told me we were ready to go.  i immediately said… whoa whoa whoa…. “where is my lesson?” … he had decided that he didn’t want to show me anything, as he figured i was nervous enough.  of course this made me more nervous, as i was now even more unprepared than when i first arrived.  he put a harness on me and was told me to head towards the plane. at this point, dave was absolutely pumped… the photographers did interviews with us and then we had a few photo opp’s outside the plane.  then we were in! 4 people jump at a time, and we sit in the order that we will jump. the next thing you know, we were up, up, and away! i was going fairly well until this point… but now i was on the verge of freaking out.  there was no turning back now…. the instructors were trying to get us to look outside and take in the view, but i was like … “oh hell no”… let me sit here and think about why I’m doing this.  soon enough, shaun started to attach me to him and adjust the harness straps. he wanted to support my spine, so i was attached at my hips, across my waist, and shoulders.  there was absolutely no room between our two bodies, the straps were so tight, i couldn’t breathe out.  then it was Dave’s turn, they got him up to the doorway and then they were gone… i watched him plummet through the clouds and towards the ground.  TERRIFYING…. i was at the point if they didn’t push me out of the plane soon, i WAS going to pee my pants.  i was not very in tune with my surroundings and from the photos/video (that i have now seen) i look absolutely petrified.  complete terror across my face.  i tell shaun that i have a lot going on in my life right now, and he needs to get me to the ground alive.  he pretends he can’t hear me … ha ha :P. in a matter of a few more seconds, they had me in the doorway ready to go.  i think that this is around the time i enter into shock… looking back it was a good place for me to be, i was vulnerable, not confident, insecure, uneasy, and unprepared.  as shaun pushes me out of the plane, i shut my eyes.  i don’t think i meant to, i think it was just a reaction to my fear.  we were up 14,000 ft and the freefall was supposed to be 60seconds or so long. i opened my eyes shortly after the jump and experienced a ton of free-fall. i remember shaun hitting me on the shoulder telling me i could open my arms, but i was too terrified lol. held my fetal position for as long as i could…. eventually i embraced the fall.  things that we’re going through my mind… holy eff eff eff… my cheeks hurt… i can’t breathe… holy eff eff eff.  for whatever reason, i kept on trying to hold my breath as i thought it would help me… no idea, just made me look funnier in photos.  the wind is like 140 km/hr? maybe more… can’t remember… anyways there if you keep your mouth open, there is immense pressure on your cheeks, so much that they were sore for a few hours afterwards.  as we were free-falling, ben, the camera man was trying to hold my hands, get me to do things… and i was in such shock, i refused to participate. just took in the speed (and noise!) of flying through the air.  eventually it came down to pull the chute, and up up and away again…. i loved floating through the air… it was immediately quiet, and the north shore looked beautiful.  a rainbow shone through the clouds and shaun told me that they were trying to get me inside the rainbow during the freefall. shaun was trying to chat with me about this & that, and i kept on swearing at him, freaking out that i actually jumped out of a plane.  he didn’t want a parachute collision (lol), so he told me that we were going to steer through the mountains and get out of the way of another chute… this is the only time i felt queasy throughout the whole experience.  when the parachute is steered, you get that back & forth, swaying feeling… yuck.  next thing you know we were going to land, as you approach the land – it feels like you are going super fast and will die. there was a perfect amount of wind for our landing (just as frank had predicted) – still though… we land, and i immediately collapse to the ground.  this skydiving thing is exhausting! shaun gave me a hug, and they escorted us off the landing area.  i didn’t pee my panties or puke (thank gosh!) – but was cold cold cold for hours.  dave & i spent the next few hours watching our dvd’s, chatting with other instructors, and killing time till our transport back to waikiki.  we tipped our instructors, received our certificates, photos, dvd and soon enough we were on our way. 
the whole event was emotionally exhausting.  i arrived back in Waikiki that afternoon and went straight to bed for a 14 hour sleep! reflecting back on the experience, one of the best things i have done in a long time.  i loved that it put me outside of my element and forced me to learn more about myself.  since returning back to calgary, i get motion nauseous extremely easy… i haven’t been able to read on the bus/train, struggled on the plane home with doing homework, etc.  i think my body thinks i am going to fly myself out of a plane again soon ha ha ;)  
would i do it again? i think i would.  it was truly hard to go through the experience alone (yes, i did have the random aussie i picked up haha)… but too not have support from anyone i know, and as far as i was concerned – near death… it was terrifying.  if someone i know wanted to go, and needed the support – i would truly go again.  i hope to gosh my friend needs support in some cool country (hellooo new zealand) with some cool company (helllooo exemplary safety standards). :)

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