Tuesday, April 3, 2012

thrill-seeker and secret-keeper

These are two attributes I wouldn't generally assign to myself but a weekend not long ago proved that I might be a little more adventurous than I thought.

My boyfriend, Jason, and I planned a trip to Las Vegas for his birthday. Shortly after we booked the tickets, I started brainstorming fun ways we could celebrate. Inspiration struck about a month before we left and gave me a huge secret to keep.

Skydiving. Jumping out of an airplane attached to another person with just a piece of cloth to keep you from splatting on the ground.

Over the last year or so, we talked about skydiving and I had always said I would do it but I couldn't know about it in advance because I thought I would talk myself out of it. But how could I pass up this opportunity to surprise him, especially when we were going somewhere with ideal skydiving weather?  

I booked our skydiving adventure and I started telling everyone I could: coworkers, friends, people on the bus, my parents (which was a big mistake, but too long for this story). While I told everyone else I possibly could, I kept it a secret from Jason.

The week before our trip I had dreams about skydiving, some more funny than others – the worst was jumping out of the airplane and then realizing that I wasn't attached to my tandem partner. Jason was oblivious to the goings-on in my mind and it's probably for the best. I thought about it enough for the both of us.

Jason knew I had something planned and the stress of not knowing finally came to a peak that morning. After our taxi dropped us off at the pick-up location, Jason said he couldn’t wait any longer to find out. Mr. Patience finally had to know and when I told him, all he said was “okay,” and then he started mentally preparing himself. [Editor’s note: He really was excited; it was just a lot to take in at 7 a.m.]

Shortly after I told him, we signed our lives away to Skydive Las Vegas. We signed and initialed that neither we nor our heirs would sue if we were injured or killed. We read statistics of how many people die each year skydiving and what the odds are of being injured. We watched a video about the risk of skydiving. Heavy information to digest so early in the morning.

After the shuttle ride to the hangar and waiting three hours for our turn, they finally called our names. We suited up, said our goodbyes, and met our tandem partners. Jason was paired up with Kyle and I was with Steve. We loaded into the airplane and took off while our partners started hooking us up.

By the time we were 15,000 feet up (13,000 feet above sea level) the first pair jumped. I was surprised I wasn’t freaking out yet. Then my turn was up. I was third in line and Jason was eighth (and last). Steve pushed me to the end of our bench toward the open door and we sat down on the floor of the plane. I stuck my legs outside in the rushing wind and tucked them under the plane. Before I knew it, we were free falling.

As you can guess, I thinking, “I JUST JUMPED OUT OF AN AIRPLANE!”

It took me a second to get over the falling feeling and in no time I felt like I was flying. Steve released our parachute and we slowed down (A LOT). Steve said our lines were twisted, which is a scary thing to hear when your lines are the only thing attaching you to the parachute, but he got them untwisted and we glided over Boulder City for a few minutes. The landing was a piece of cake. My partner Steve asked how my first skydive went and all I could say was “WOOHOOO! That was awesome!!”

Jason had a great jump as well and even steered his parachute as they were gliding down.

As soon as I was unhooked from my parachute, I headed over to Jason who had just landed as well.

We survived! Jason lived to see his 26th birthday. His partner, Kyle asked him the same question, how was your first skydive? Jason’s response: “It was great, thanks!”

We had a very sane and un-adventurous rest of the trip and mostly sat out by the pool enjoying the warm weather.

[Follow-up note: Jason said I’m not allowed to plan anymore surprises; this, plus his surprise party last year, is too much stress. We’ll see about that…]