When I was in Grade 6 (11 years old), my gym teacher made me cry. We were doing a section on self defense and she pulled me aside after class and pretty much got mad at me because I didn’t yell while we were simulating being attacked. I tried to tell her that yelling didn’t feel natural to me, and that I figured that if I was really scared and being attacked that I would yell out. I tried to tell her that at least, but 11 year old me, just got a warm face, eyes welled up and I cried. This memory has stayed with me 20+ years later and I still tell this story adamant that were I ever really scared, the screams would pour out of me.
We went bungy jumping in Queenstown. For the first time ever. We figured our first time should be where this crazy bungy jumping thing started – at the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge in New Zealand – a 43m bridge platform nestled into the rock face above the turquoise waters of the Kawarau Gorge.
When we told people, I took the surprised reactions in stride and without doing any real research or polling the crowd on their experience, I told everyone that I wasn’t going to think about it and I was just going to jump off. Today, people said that the hardest part was to jump off. To physically and mentally and willingly throw yourself off a bridge, with the hope that the cords were going to do what they were supposed to do. I already knew that I wasn’t going to give myself the opportunity to think about it, to be scared, I was just going to throw myself over, so I figured I had that ‘scared’ part handled. No problem.
Well, it turns out that I had no problem jumping off the bridge (at least I thought I jumped, the photos reveal that I seemed to have rolled off the platform…). The second that my body felt the free fall, the lack of support, the air falling around me (or whatever that feeling was), I realized that jumping was not the hard part for me. I realized that I was freakin’ scared. And I thought to myself, ‘what the hell have I done???’
And then, as scared as I’ve ever been, I shut my eyes tight and fell silently towards the water.
So it turns out that when I am really scared, I am silent.
And then I realized that I was paying to be as scared as I’ve ever been. So I opened my eyes and watched as the turquoise water got closer and closer. I remembered to stretch my arms out in front of me and tuck my chin to my chest and I surged into the water, all the way to my knees.
The cord recoiled and shot me back out of the water and I remember spinning a lot, I remember the water weighing down my hair and it escaping out of its bun, I remember trying to keep my feet flexed so my shoes didn’t fall off, I remember water shaking off of me and I remember seeing the pole that I was supposed to grab, and not even understanding how I could grab the pole while I was spinning.
It took me three tries to grab the pole and I landed very ungracefully into the raft. The guys asked me how the bungy was, where I was from, I think I heard something about the Seahawks. And all I could answer was, ‘what?…..what?….what was that?’ I was dazed, I was confused and my ears were plugged.
It took me the rest of the day (10+ hours) to feel normal again and I realized that I have never done something like that before. I have never given my body a shot of adrenaline so intense and so quick. I like warm fuzzies. I like hot tea and a good book. I like crying at sad movies and watching it again right after I finish it. I like resting my head on a cat and hearing them purr. I do not intentionally shock my system. I jump at scary movies (actually I don’t watch scary movies, I physically jump when something sudden happens and surprises me).
So I don’t know how I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to be scared to go bungy jumping off of a 43m bridge, but as I watch the video and look at the photos, I am in awe and cannot believe that we actually did it! We did it! We’re THOSE people!
On a side note, Nathan was excited and tackled that bridge jump like it was nothing. He knew without a doubt that he wanted to do a water touch and he knew he was going to Peter Pan his way off that bridge.
Well, he leapt off that bridge like he was Super Man!
Afterwards the guys told him that he jumped the farthest they’d seen all day. And apparently, the further you jump, the shorter you fall, and so, eyes open the entire way, he stretched out his arms…his fingertips and reached for that turquoise water. All he could grasp was air as he just didn’t make the water.
Guess that means that there is another jump in his future!