Jesus! What was in the Gin? “Pardon?” I exclaimed. He calmly repeated “The skydive, we’re jumping from 15,000 feet not 11,000 as I’d initially thought.”
Flashbacks from our Gin fuelled second date came back to me, when I had bragged that I’d try anything once. My cockiness had come back to haunt me and was literally going to push me out of a plane.
“That’s fab!”, I gulped with a fake excited smile. “When have you booked it for?” I enquired. “First of April.”
“April Fools Day, great!” I replied already considering the many practical jokes I would undoubtedly be subjected to on the day.
My relaxing Sunday morning stroll with my feet firmly on the ground had resulted in a 15,000 foot skydive booked for three weeks time. Meanwhile my internal organs had decided to engage in acrobatics that can only be described as involuntary and ungraceful somersaults.
15,000 feet is very difficult to visualise, a quick search on Google told me that Ben Nevis is 4,412 feet. Everest is 29,028 feet. I can’t possibly only be jumping from half the height of the tallest mountain! I felt slightly better. I quickly decided that naivety was the way forward, in a similar fashion to childbirth, I had no desire to watch a YouTube clip. Mental images of people being ripped from the side of the plane by the wind were already flashing through my mind, these did not need to be substantiated by video evidence.
A week later on a short trip to Germany I had the misfortune of a window seat on the plane, usually a sought after location. Aware that it was going to be the last flight that I would be on that would both take off and land with me still sat in my seat. I tried to remain calm until the captain announced, “We are cruising at 15,000 feet.” I turned my head left and peeked outside the window. My mind struggled to decide whether the view of many clouds blocking the view of the ground was a good or bad thing. On the bright side I couldn’t see how far down it was but on the bad side we must be really really high as we were above the clouds. I ordered another red wine from the stewardess and buried my head back in my book.
The next week continued in a random sequence of acrobatic internal organ performances which occasionally followed prolonged bouts of skydiving related questions. Will I be able to breathe while free falling at speeds in excess of 120mph? What if I have a panic attack while hurtling face down towards the earth? The word diving started to feel like an inappropriate description, the images in my head were more of me having to be pushed out of the plane rather than voluntarily leaping to a daredevil skydive. The usual, what if the parachute doesn’t open scenarios plagued my mind before sleep on the days proceeding the jump. The day before the jump I boarded a twenty four hour roller coaster of excited highs and fear filled lows.
What makes us want to jump out of a plane? Am I trying to impress Adrenaline Junkie Matt? A little bit. Do I want to push myself completely out of my comfort zone? Yes. I’m terrified there is no disguising that but at the same time I’m filled with an excitement so intense that I can’t stop grinning.
Did I mention I’m scared of heights?
By Ana – The CamperVana