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.”
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.