From 10,000 Feet Up: Skydiving In Central Oregon

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.