I jumped out of a plane again. About a week ago my friend Alisa and I decided to treat ourselves to a little adrenaline rush. It's been a rough month.
I have discovered this about myself. I love the sight of people falling out of airplanes. Is that wrong? On the way out there Alisa said, "Wouldn't it be unfortunate if we died doing this?"
Yes, yes it would. Though oddly the only times I've been really fearful for my life, my feet were firmly on the ground (like the Millennium New Years celebration in downtown Madrid when I was sure I'd be crushed to death by a rowdy crowd singing Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!)
The scariest part of skydiving is the plane ride up. The plane itself is not much larger than some remote control models I've seen. It fits about ten people straddling two benches. One guy, doing a "hop n' pop" jumped out at the halfway height and the whole plane lurched as a canoe might. It's quite unsettling.
My second skydive was a more aware experience than my first. My first time I think I sort of just flailed around a lot, unable to breathe or control my limbs in the 120 mph winds rushing past me. But this time I picked up my head, posed for the camera (a lot) and enjoyed the vision of the earth one usually only sees from the tiny window of an airplane, a long and winding river, an ocean in the distance and the green patchwork of surrounding farmland. It's like being superman or seeing earth from space.
When the parachute opened the tandem instructor passed me a beer. I toasted Alisa as she sailed past us at 11,000 feet in the air and drank my Bud Lite while hovering far above the treetops.
We had dinner later in the afterglow of the experience. As we enjoyed our fried clam strip appetizer (ordered out of sheer curiosity) we got a call and learned that while I had been hurtling toward earth, my car had been broken into while parked at my friend's house. Three bored kids had thrown a large rock through the window.
The police officer was awesome. She sat with my little red wagon until we returned, to make sure no one messed with the car or stole our empty diet Pepsi bottles or reusable grocery bags. The funny thing is, I wasn't completely incensed until the cop told me the same kids smashed the windows at the nearby library. The LIBRARY! I mean my god, is nothing sacred?
On the way home Chris and Alisa told me about the time their house had been broken into and how terrifying it felt. I still shiver to think about them getting home and realizing someone had been in their house, taken their things, disrespected their space.
So evidently, the danger does not lie in jumping out of an airplane at 13,000 feet, but rather right here on the ground. Next time I will leave a sign on my car, "Gone skydiving, don't ruin my buzz (and leave the library alone for chrissake!)