As he tightened the harness down on the top of my thighs and around my shoulders, Stephen asked, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”. My mind raced although I knew it was pointless, nothing I’d done in my 28-years on Earth was about to impress a guy who hurls himself out of planes for a living. I mumbled something about jumping off a 30-foot cliff into a lake...once. I could feel the heat building in my cheeks as the familiar sensation of embarrassment washed over me. Politely, Stephen didn’t dive deeper. I wished he would stop focusing so much on my lack of daredevil-ness and more on securing the slim straps meant to hold my body to his during the freefall at 120 miles per hour. After a slow ascent to 10,000 feet in a plane the size of my Subaru Outback, we were finally parallel with the Cascade mountain range. I’d seen it from up here before, but the realization that I was about to have nothing in between the snow-dusted peaks and myself, in just a matter of minutes, made this trip feel much different.
As Stephen connected my harness to his and repeatedly asked if I was ready for this? I waited for fear to take over. I expected my heart to thump heavy in my chest and my stomach to feel woozy, but for some reason, neither happened. I’d always felt indifferent about skydiving -- never had a strong desire to do it, never said I’d never do it. A wave of wind smacked me in the face as Stephen pushed the coffee table-sized door open. A strange sense of calmness surrounded me as I heard the countdown. Three. Two. One. Suddenly, it was as if I was watching a movie; my brain couldn’t comprehend what was happening. Images I was positive I wasn’t actually seeing with my own eyes rushed past me.
A 45-second freefall sounded like an eternity while we were on the ground, but before I knew it, Stephen yanked on the parachute pull and our rapid descent to the desert slowed down dramatically. I hollered, “That was the most amazing f***ing thing I’ve ever done!”. Stephen laughed confidently as if he knew... the next time someone asks me, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?” I’ll have an answer I can say loud and proud.