It's the classic bucket list item, but I never really considered going. I just knew skydiving was kind of expensive and that I probably shouldn't do it in a foreign country (maybe in Australia or New Zealand... they seem like they have their extreme sports thing down). Earlier this year, Josh mentioned he'd always wanted to go. Thus, when Hey Eleanor went from idea to reality, we made a reservation with Skydive Twin Cities. It was on.
Our friends Lynn and Kris decided to join us. And like I mentioned in a previous post, our original jump got cancelled due to wind. We all hemmed and hawed about rescheduling for the next day at 9am. It was supposed to be a bit brisk... maybe 40 degrees? But then we decided that when you're plummeting to earth from 10,000 ft, body temperature isn't really a top concern. We each forked over $200, as well as the fate of our existence, into the hands of perfect strangers.
We were the first jumpers to arrive at the itty bitty Forest Lake, MN airstrip and things moved quickly. The four of us paid, then watched a video, featuring a guy who could be a long-lost Duck Dynasty cousin, all about the very real possibility that we could be seriously injured or killed in the next 30 minutes. Excellent! On to the 10 page contract where I signed away every legal right. Then, we laid belly-down on a carpeted area where an instructor demonstrated how to fling our arms out to the side once we left the plane, then how to tuck our legs at the landing. Fairly simple. He handed over the kind of purple jumpsuit I'd imagine Prince would wear if he ever did anything athletic (aside from playing b-ball against Charlie Murphy). Next, we headed to the plane and practiced stepping from the open door to a narrow platform. I wasn't even nervous. Really!
Josh and I crammed into the flying sardine can (which was the aviation equivalent to a 70s Pinto, except there was only one seat and I was 65 percent confident the plane wouldn't explode) with the two guys we'd be spooning while hurling toward earth. Cam, a person I met 5 minutes ago, would be fully responsible for my life. He seemed like a nice guy and is going to school to be an air traffic controller, so I figured he probably knew what he was doing. I've never been in a plane that small before, so that was an experience in and of itself. Unbelievably, as we hovered over Forest Lake at 2,000 ft, I still wasn't all that scared! Cam showed me the altitude on his wrist. "8,000 more feet to go!" Gulp.
Once we reached altitude, I flipped around. Cam clipped himself to my harness in four places: two at the shoulders, two at the hips. That feels pretty secure. The door flew open and I watched my boyfriend fly nuts-to-butts out the window with his dude. Byeeeeeeeee!
Cam and I, as a single unit, shimmied to the tiny door. He placed his right foot on the platform. I followed suit. Then he reminded me that I'd opted to have the experience recorded, so waved and smiled at the GoPro he wore in a small mitt. I closed my eyes. We tucked and dove.
You know the "lose your stomach on a roller coaster" feeling? That didn't happen. I can't even explain what the free fall felt like. Part flying, and part hair drier blowing directly in your face at full blast, it was so much less scary (and so much cooler!) than I'd ever imagined. I guess you had to be there.
We landed safely, then waited for Lynn and Kris to jump. Spoiler alert: no one died. Then, we drove back to Minneapolis for brunch. As we sat down at French Meadow, I thought, "It's not even noon and I've accomplished so much today!" We started recounting the experience. That's when I started picturing myself perched on the side of the plane, with nothing but some guy from Connecticut between me and the ground. Immediately, my hands started sweating profusely. I kept wiping 'em off, but it would not stop. A full two hours after jumping, my body caught up with my brain.
I could tell you all the of the nitty-gritty details, but that's why I splurged on the video. I like to think of it as the most extreme selfie of all time.