One Month: Waiting to Jump
by Liz of Inventing My Life
And that’s when I decided to jump out of the airplane.
When I turned 30, I decided that I wanted to celebrate my birthday by going skydiving. I felt like I needed to mark this major milestone in a big dramatic way, to prove to myself that I was still adventurous and full of life. This was probably the very first example of my commitment not to turn into a fossil, although now from the perspective of 41 it seems a little ridiculous to think that I had anything to prove at 30.
My boyfriend at the time had been skydiving once before, so he helped me think about my options and find a place to do it. I decided that I wanted to do a static line jump, where there is a line attached to the plane and to your parachute so that it opens automatically after you jump. The other option was to do what’s called a tandem jump, where you get to experience free fall and open the parachute yourself, but you have to be strapped to an instructor the first few times you do that, to make sure that nothing goes wrong. I really wanted to be able to say that I jumped all by myself, so I decided I could live without experiencing free fall.
On the scheduled day, we drove up to a skydiving school in Maine. I remember that we spent most of the morning learning everything we needed to know. First we were in a classroom learning a bunch of stuff about speed and velocity and wind direction and other technical things, and had to pass a test in what we learned before moving on the next phase, which was to practice wearing all the equipment, jumping out of a mock plane, and hanging from the ceiling in a harness to get the feeling of what it would be like.
And then we had to wait.
Even though it was a pretty mild day down on the ground, the instructors said that there were a lot of clouds and wind up above and they wanted to wait until things cleared up a little before we actually jumped. We ate lunch, walked around the grounds, talked; three or four hours went by.
At some point I started getting panicky, because I realized that I was forgetting everything that we had learned in the morning and I was worried that I wouldn’t have a clue what to do when it actually came time to jump!
Finally, they said that it had cleared up enough that we could jump, so we put on all the equipment and loaded ourselves onto this tiny little plane. There was the pilot, my boyfriend, me, and a dude they called the “jumpmaster” who would coach us through it, and we could not have fit even one more person into that plane no matter how hard we tried. My boyfriend jumped first without a hitch, and the plane circled around to get back into position for my jump.
I leaned out, put one foot on the bar that you jumped from, and then pulled myself back into the plane.
The jumpmaster gave me the little pep talk you read at the beginning of the post, the plane circled around yet again, and I decided that worse than not jumping would be paying for the privilege of not jumping.
So I jumped, and floating above the treetops after the parachute opened was simultaneously one of the most exhilarating and most serene experiences I have ever had in my life.
Now, this waiting for a referral feels a lot like that waiting to jump. I’ve spent months preparing, learning about attachment issues and child development and appropriate discipline and the importance of culture and the difficulties of being a transracial family…and I’m starting to worry that I’m going to forget all of it while I wait and won’t have a clue what to do when I finally bring Actual Child home!
I may need another pep talk when the time comes, but I have a feeling that I’m in for another exhilarating and serene experience once I make the jump.