Due to a misspent youth and several car accidents as well as genetics, I have a bad spine. When I was 35, my chiropractor said to me, “you have a lovely spine for a 70-year-old woman.  Don’t take up skydiving.”

.Cliff jumping in Spain

Funny he should say that.  I have always wanted to skydive.  I know I would be terrified, but the exhilaration of doing it would counteract the pre-event fetal position.  I was supposed to go skydiving with my best friend when I was 20, but she up and died on me.  I never forgave her and not just because of the skydiving thing. Nobody should lose a best friend to death at 20.  But that’s another story.

We were going to go to a small airport, spend the day learning how and going through the safety precautions topped off with a jump.  It was hideously expensive.  $100 I think.  That was a lot of money back then.  My car payment on a brand new Mustang was $105.

She died in a motorcycle wreck.  The thing I loved about Sherry was her adventurous spirit – I can do anything attitude.  Turns out, she wasn’t so good at driving a motorcycle in heavy traffic even after months of lessons and practice rides. 

I vowed that I would skydive for both of us.  But I didn’t want to go alone — I wasn’t as intrepid then as I am now plus that $100 was a major barrier. 

But the chiro assures me the impact of landing would break a bone or two, fracture a spinal disk, or something. So, I’ve started looking at hang-gliding over the water. I think maybe that would be a lower impact. In some respects, it’s more appealing than skydiving.  First of all, it’s quiet.  Sherry would have wanted to do that too.  However, it is prohibitively expensive.

I have a sense of what it might be like.  I went cliff jumping while in Spain for my son’s wedding.  I had a bad foot at the time, but I didn’t see how jumping off a cliff into the Mediterranean could hurt.  And it didn’t.  I couldn’t believe I was doing it.  It wasn’t planned.  I didn’t know it was on the itinerary.  We were doing a full tour of Ibiza.  One of the last stops before sunset champagne at Es Vedra, we went swimming.  At the place to go swimming was a series of three cliffs – each progressively higher.  I looked at my young cohort lining up, mostly the guys, and I said a resounding no. 

Much to my shock, I found myself standing in line for the second jump.  The whole time I am thinking NO NO NO NO.  By the time it was my turn, I felt like I couldn’t back down.  I somehow summoned the courage and leaped to certain death on the jagged rocks below.

Nope.  The time spent in the air freefalling is brief — only a few seconds — but it seems so much longer. At some point between the cliff edge and the water’s surface, you lose fear and exhilaration takes over.  Pulses through your body.  I entered the warm Mediterranean waters and had a swim to shore — my heart pounding and my head going WOW WOW WOW WOW.

I’ve only been exhilarated a few times in my life.  It’s a heady sensation – one could become a junkie chasing that feeling.

Exhilaration. My adrenalin is pumping just remembering Spain. 

With my foot, I did have trouble negotiating the rocky shore when I got out, so I sat out the third, and much higher, jump.  I regret that now.  I sat on the rocks and took photos with my big stupid camera and its telephoto lens of the young’uns jumping.  I didn’t get the shot I wanted.  I’m not a very good photographer.  But I came close. 

Later, we made our way across the rocks to a point where we could see the sunset at Es Vedra. It is there I was able to sit and reflect on my experience. What a lovely evening it was, even though I was alone. Perhaps because i was alone with my thought.

I don’t think I thought of Sherry at the time, but I should have.  She would have been all over it.  All three jumps.

Hang gliding would be perfect.  I’ll do it.  And I’ll think of Sherry when I do it.

I’ll think of Sherry and all the other mentor friends I’ve lost over the years that instilled in me a sense of adventure and derring-do. 

One thought on “Exhilaration

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