It’s midnight. I’m wide-eyed and my mind is racing. “Tomorrow,” I think. “Tomorrow I am skydiving again.” My mind continues, “Do I really want to skydive tomorrow?” “I got sick the last time I went skydiving, and that wasn’t so pretty, but I still had an amazing time, and well tomorrow I’m sure…I’m sure I’ll still have an amazing time…” I hear noises from another room of the house I am staying at in Rhode Island.
“We’re going skydiving tomorrow!!!!” I hear my friend Lauren shout. Then tap, tap, tap. She comes running out of her room and pushes my door. “Libby! We are going skydiving tomorrow.” I hear her giggle again and tap, tap, tap, back to her room. I smile. I swing my legs out of the bed and I walk over to the room Lauren and her friend Kat are staying in: “Getting excited I ask,” with a grin on my face.
They both nod happily, and then begin to ask me questions about my first experience. I tell them everything, from the preparation, to the boarding the plane, to the jump. I tell them we won’t die (hehe) and that it will be a lot of fun, that they are doing something brave and awesome and amazing. I watch them get excited all over again, and then I excuse myself to go to sleep. As I lie back down, I can hear them still chatting–their voices an octave higher than they usually are. I wonder if they’ll sleep at all, but their excitement calms me.
The truth is that I wasn’t sure I wanted to skydive so soon after my first experience last year. I knew I wanted to try it again, but I wasn’t positive this was the right time. However, a new friend of mine, Danny had expressed interest in going on an adventure so after deciding against a bungee jump trip to Canada, I told him we could go skydiving. A few other friends of mine were also interested in joining–and they were located in Rhode Island, so I made us all a reservation up at Skydive Newport. When I went to meet Danny, I was nervous about the weekend. I didn’t know Danny all that well and if he wasn’t super excited–I knew it would be difficult to get through another skydive, since it hadn’t been my top priority. Safe to say–Danny was super excited, and the moment we saw each other in Penn Station, I felt waves of positive energy. “This is going to work out just fine,” I thought to myself.
It’s now 1:00am and I am drifting in and out of sleep. I can hear the girls still chit chatting away about the jump in the morning. Danny is asleep downstairs on a couch. But I can feel the energy still buzzing around me. And even if skydiving wasn’t exactly my first choice for a hobby to repeat right away, I am now suddenly overwhelmed with excitement myself–not for me jumping, but for my friends who have never jumped before. THIS is what I love about the hobby hoarder project–going on adventures with others, listening to their excitement, and having the opportunity to see others be completely open to trying something new and taking risks and challenging themselves. ”Tomorrow is going to be awesome,” I tell myself as I fade into a deep sleep.
When we wake up in the morning, we’ve got an hour drive to Newport. As we drive, Danny turns to me, “I’m so excited. I just want to jump now.” I smile. Again, THIS is what excites me about hobby hoarding.
We arrive at Skydive Newport, sign away our lives, empty out our wallets, watch a safety video and then head outside to take our turns jumping out of an airplane. Lauren and Kat go first. They’ve opted to wear the jump suits and are hopping up and down with joy. Not before long, they disappear onto an airplane with their tandem instructors. A group of us watches as the plane takes off and they disappear into the higher altitudes of the sky–the buzzing engine allows us to follow where they are. Ten minutes pass and we watch as two specks fall through the sky. Less than a minute later we see the shoots pulled one each of the jumpers. “Ah I just want to jump now,” I proclaim, almost surprised to hear it come out of my mouth.
Time slows down for us in the spectator booth as Lauren and Kat float to the ground. I cross my fingers hoping they loved it–hoping no one got sick the way that I did the first time–and hoping the first things out of their mouth will be something like “That was amazing,” or “I just want to go again right now.” They start briskly walking over to us and I can very clearly make out giant smiles on their faces. Lauren runs over to her Dad and gives him a hug yelling how much fun it was. THen she comes over to me and gives me a hug, thanking me for planning the trip–exclaiming how much of a high she is now on. Kat does the same.
“Success,” I think. “Just their smiles right now mean this trip is a success.”
Danny and I are next.
We follow our tandem instructors into a small five person airplane. I’m much calmer than I was the first time I went skydiving. I wasn’t scared when I went the first time, but I can remember my adrenaline rushing, I can remember just wanting so badly to jump out of the airplane for such a free feeling. And I can remember it all happening so fast that I got sick on my own adrenaline. This, right now, is a different experience. I feel the plane leave the ground and I look out the window. The sky is void of any clouds and the water down below is reflecting a beautiful blue. The Newport Bridge stands out and I watch as the houses get smaller down below. This view is stunning.
My instructor tells me we are getting close to jumping altitude and asks me to put on my goggles. I do. He tightens them. I take a look over to my friend Danny. He’s ready. I can tell. His tandem instructor pops open the door and they begin making their way toward the edge. Before I know it, Danny has disappeared out of the airplane, and now it’s my turn. Nicky, my instructor, and I move toward the edge of the plane.
He tells me to go out a little further and I oblige, smile for the camera and then feel ourselves flip out of the airplane. Unlike my first jump, the world seems to slow down. Free fall feels less intense and I actually take in my surroundings. I’m present. The adrenaline hasn’t taken over my body, and it’s kind of an incredible feeling. I’m breathing easy. I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe the first time I jumped out of an airplane.
Fifty seconds later, Nicky pulls the chute and I feel ourselves abruptly slow down. He instructs me to take off my goggles. I’m in awe, still as I take a moment to breathe in the fresh air. “Gosh. This is beautiful. I feel as though I can hold the whole world in my arms.”
Again, I feel present. The parachute ride feels a lot less intense than the first one I did. This time, the instructor allows me to control the direction of the shoot. This time, I don’t get sick. “I’m flying,” I say to Nicky. “I’m really flying.”
As we come in for landing, I giggle with joy and Nicky and I exchange high fives.
And then I cross my fingers for Danny’s reaction. “I want to do it again,” he says. I laugh. I kind of do too.
We run over to our friends in the spectator booth. I look at everyone and proudly exclaim, “I didn’t vomit this time!” They all laugh and we hug it out–excited about the feat we’ve just accomplished, the adventure we’ve just gone on, the chance we’ve just given ourselves to embrace life and the opportunities we are granted. My friends thank me again for setting it up–and I thank them for being up for it–and for getting me to be up for it again too–and for getting me excited all over about it again.
That’s what life is about–getting excited, and about being open to trying new things and being open to trying things again and seeing how the experience differs. It’s about taking off or jumping (literally and metaphorically) and knowing that life’s accidental blessings will catch you. It’s about going on the adventures we’ve always said we wanted to. It’s about living the life we’ve always said we wanted to. So remember–beyond all the fears you feel when you set out to try something new or when you decide to take on a challenge, get excited—and embrace the opportunities. And most of all–when you do decide to jump (literally and or metaphorically), don’t forget to just enjoy the view.