stranded at the intersection
2004-03-23 10:46:14 ET

so i jumped out of an airplane sunday. it was quite possibly the most bizaare experience of my life, and if not that, definitely the most fun. we almost didn't get to go because there were 35mph winds but right at sunset, the last possible jumping point of the day, they geared us up, loaded us into the tiny winged chariot of death and flew us up 13,000ft. the flight up took about 10mins. of anticipatory glances at the disappearing ground and nervous squeezes to my knee by my best friend/free falling comrade, levit. but then when we reached elevation everything happened faster than i can even remember. i know we scooted up to the open door of the plane, all i could see out of it was a blanket of grey clouds, then bill (levit's significant other) disappeared out the door--i saw his face first, his eyes fluttered backwards into his head, his mouth opened in shock, he turned his head away from the gushing wind and then he was gone, vanished into thin air the second he leaned forward--and then i jumped out five seconds later. there wasn't much time to think of anything, but on the way out i briefly turned back, looked at my anxious levit creeping towards the door and shouted "like pianos falling from the sky, levit! i fucking love you!" and then i was a goner as well. i jumped out face first (not sideways like bill and levit) so i barrel rolled into the sky. the first thing i remember was that the clouds we jumped into were gone instantly and then there was ground to the right of me, then the left, then above me, then finally below. and then i was falling, falling, falling.

only it never felt like falling. it was like the pressure of the air was holding me up and i was just soaring against it. we fell at 180mph at first but then a small parachute device opens that is nowhere near enough to save you but enough to slow you down to about 120mph. it was -14 degrees in the air when we jumped and that plus the 120mph wind chill was the coldest thing i have ever experienced in my life. (we had been cold to the bone all day long as we waited, but this made all that shivering look like a suana.) the free fall went on for almost a minute and although it ended much sooner than i had expected, it was still a really long time. i just kept watching the ground rush at me faster and faster. i didn't tense up, i opened my arms and embraced the sensation and i was smiling huge the whole time. i had a million thoughts: is this what it's like to die falling? how similar is this to suicide? let's pretend the parachute isn't going to open or isn't there at all, how different does that feel? wow, check out that sunset. where the hell are bill and levit? this is as free as i will ever feel in my entire life. this is fucking FUN. i'm not falling, i'm hanging in the air (hang like a star, fucking glow in the dark for all the desperate eyes to see) and it'll take another plane to come pluck me from the sky and return me to the ground.

when the parachute opened, i wasn't ready for it yet, was having too much fun rushing towards hypothetically imminent death. as soon as the parachute opened the roaring wind disappeared and everything was perfectly quiet and peaceful. the first thing i said aloud was "awww" in disappointment that the initial rush was over. second was, "this is the most fun i've ever had." the cold didn't disappear on the way down and by the time i reached 2,000ft. my hands were frozen stiff to the point that i could not hold onto the parachute controls. i had planned on landing and running to my friends/roommates who were awaiting with cameras and campagne, but i was so cold when i got down that i immediately ran inside to the bathroom and put my numb hands under hot water. the pain as i regained feeling was intense. then bill and levit came in and we all marveled at how fucking unbelievable that experience was. hell, i'm still marvelling. i recommend this to one and all (it is, quite unfortunately, nowhere near as scary as i thought, so don't let that dissuade you) and will DEFINITELY go again myself sometime. next time i'll pick a much, much warmer date, however.

2004-03-23 11:43:37 ET

I have two things that I'd really love to do before I die, jump from a plane and scuba dive. Im scared of heights and water. I pushed myself to parasail and I found it kinda boring once I got up in the air and used to it. Peaceful but boring. Thanks for such a WOnDERful description...maybe one day I'll be up for it.

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