I’m going to make this short. I flew in via the red eye last night, slept a little on the plane, and that was all with a little over an hour of sleep the night before. Needless to say, I’m exhausted.
I have read before many times that skydiving is akin to flying. It’s not, and yet somehow it must be. It’s the closest thing we have as humans to it. I have read that it feels something like you are being supported on a column of air. That doesn’t sound too off, although it’s a description that fits for having done it, and made no sense to me before.
My first jump ever, last Thursday, was a tandem. Lucia was dangling out the door when I was hauled back first by my instructor after Lucia flashed me a hang loose. At the door, as I exited, she peeled off, joining me face first, head down, three bodies, she grabbing my pack, my instructor behind me.
I will admit, freely, that before we jumped, in the plane, I was freaking out. Losing my shit. Two nights before I had dreamt I was falling and jolted awake. Of course I took it as a sign, I’m just that type of person, but couldn’t decide if it was a sign of my own fear, or something bigger. The entire climb up my heart was racing and I kept coming back to that dream, trying to figure out in the minutes before I jumped what it all meant. But when I fell back, when Lucia’s face entered square in front of mine, Cheshire grin peeling to her cheeks, it was wiped away.
She floated away and we performed what I would learn on the ground is called free-flying. Turning in mid air 360 degrees before spinning to fall feet first. Craziest experience of my life. There’s nothing I’ve done that equates to the feeling, except maybe the first time I had sex. I had no fucking idea what I was doing, my head was rushing and I’m sure I was doing stuff, though not exactly sure what, and then it was over. 60 seconds of bliss on tap. I have a feeling women are reading this thinking, “It’s like the first time you had sex? It must have sucked,” but every male knows exactly what I’m talking about. One minute of displaced heaven. It’s the only thing I’ve done that even parallels, and yet even that was nothing like skydiving. And I love sex.
My second jump came Sunday afternoon. I had dropped Liz off at her friend’s place, and drove over an hour to Lucia’s. I piggy backed Shai around the jump site while Loosh took jump after jump, me waiting for my tandem guy. (My tandem guy is the biggest pimp. He helped make the entire experience for me. I doubt he'll even remember me, but I will never, ever, forget that guy.)
When we exited the plane this time it was belly first, proper. I was going to be in control of the entire jump, he had told me. We went over and over what elements I would pull off, he was there just in case, along for the ride. My body arched and my head went back, as I was told to do, and at the fall what had once been an awkward weight strapped with nylon to my back (that would be the jump instructor) disappeared. He may as well not have been there. My body rolled up skyward before the arch, which creates something of an anchor effect, righted me and sent me down stomach first. When his arm rolled in front of my eyes, thumbs up, I put my arms 90 degrees, thumbs towards my head, and my legs pushed out. I pulled off three 360 degree turns, 2 right, and 1 left. I pulled the canopy at 5,500 feet.
Today at work someone told me a friend of theirs who’d been skydiving wasn’t that impressed. “It’s just gravity at work,” they had told him, which is pretty much the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Lightening is just chemicals at work. Music is just notes being played. Sex is just one body entering another.
I can tell you this: Most of our lives are spent connected to something; we stand on the ground, we lean on a building, we climb a tree, we hang from bars, we scale walls. Hell, even when we’re flying, we’re not really flying. We’re sitting in chairs with our feet on the ground. The huge metal multi-ton engine suction thing is flying. I said that skydiving is like flying, but not really. It’s like falling, but not really. It’s flalling, sort of, or maybe swimming through something far less dense than water. But what it really is, when I think back on it, is the only time in my life I’ve been connected to absolutely nothing. Two seconds after you leave the plane the engine noise fades and you are suddenly just a body. Your body twists and adjusts, and you find yourself aware of both the nothingness, and your body in the nothingness. It’s some kind of heightened awareness that I cannot explain, a vampirism or something less poetic than that. But it is the coolest fucking thing I have ever done.
There are three Ziploc bags of loose change on my window sill, probably close to $200 all told. That should be enough for my next jump. I should dig around my couch, find stuff to pawn, sell some CDs, maybe donate blood or sperm. Credit cards are an option, though I only recently got clear of monster debt, so maybe they are not. A yard sale? In Brooklyn? Why not! Anything. Whatever it is, money must be found. I’ve found my new drug, and like anyone with a new habit, the next thing on my mind is where to get my next fix.
Happy Birthday, Corey. I love you very much. Wanna go jump out of a perfectly good airplane?