When I first arrived in Rolleston, Al asked me what I really wanted to do during my last week in New Zealand, and I, motivated by several Flying Kiwi friends, said skydiving. What I didn’t know about Al at the time was that he has absolutely no fear and had never been skydiving before, so he eagerly jumped on board and made all the plans.
We discussed it a few times during the week but just thinking about it made me want to visit Puke Road again, so I said, “You plan it and I’ll show up, but I don’t want to talk about it.” So we didn’t chat about it all week, other than to confirm it was on like Donkey Kong Sunday after church.
I tried to concentrate on the message during the service, but I admit I was a little distracted considering I was a few hours from hurtling my body out of an airplane. I think the minister said something about Eli and Samuel and parachutes, but maybe I’m misremembering. At any rate, I was starting to freak out pretty intensely during our picnic at the park after church. I don’t think I want to jump out of a plane. Thank goodness I already told Al I’d do it or I’d be chickening out for sure. Pride is a good thing when it comes to not being a wimp.
We went home to change and Al called the skydiving place to confirm the weather was still good for jumping. I held my breath, half-hoping they’d call the whole thing off. Al gave me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Crap.
I couldn’t tell anyone back home what I was up to because they’d go ballistic, so I shot Lauren a message via Words with Friends. I’m going skydiving right now. MEEP. Pray!
The four of us hopped in the car for the 90-minute ride out to Methven. I don’t think I said a word aloud the entire time, though my mind was racing. It’s not that I was scared of the risk or the danger… I was more concerned with the anticipation leading up to the jump and then the sensation of falling. I had no doubt we’d be perfectly safe, but I was still freaking out.
Ruth had been skydiving a few years ago, so she served as photographer and emotional support – for me. Al didn’t need it! I was just about as jittery and stressed as I’ve ever been, though interestingly, it was only a notch worse than how I feel before public speaking.
We arrived, filled out our waivers (you might die – good luck!) and hung out in the reception area awaiting a few more tourists who were still en route. While Al sat on the couch as relaxed as if he were at home in front of the TV, I was in quite a state. I prayed. I imagined falling over and over again. I repeatedly swallowed the lump in my throat. I wiped imaginary sweat off my face. I wrote a goodbye note to my family on my iPhone. I tried to slow my heart rate with deep breaths. I could not believe I was really going to skydive. ME! The gal who said she’d never, ever jump out of a perfectly good plane was about to suit up, attach herself to a stranger and fly. Whoa.
I’m pretty sure my mother was praying for me at that very moment because the receptionist came over to say the wind had just changed direction and they’d have to call off the jump. She felt terrible that we’d driven all that way. Al’s face clouded with disappointment… and mine? Utter relief. I tried to look disappointed, too, but I was secretly thanking God.
Will I ever try again? I couldn’t say. You’ll be the first to know!
Up next… Biscuits, Thongs & Whipper Snippers