“Why would you jump out of a perfectly good plane?”

I think those were my Aunt M’s words.

It’s a fair question, really. One my sister S and I didn’t really think about when we agreed to do just that.

Let me tell you something about skydiving. If you talk to bunches of people–like I did–who tell you that skydiving is no big deal because you don’t even feel like you’re falling–like they told me–don’t believe them for a second.

S and I got all dressed up in our jumpsuits, and everything was fine.

We went through the basic instructions on how to bend your legs and put your arms back, and everything was fine.

We got in a plane and enjoyed a nice scenic view of the Blue Ridge, and everything was fine.

Our wrist monitors showing our altitude slowly climbed. 1,000 feet, then 2,000 feet, and on up. At around 5,500 feet (a.k.a., just over a mile), the ‘parachute tester’ in our plane jumped out. And that is when the choice words started coming out of my mouth.

He just fell. Out of a perfectly good plane.

Typical jumps are from 9,500 feet. He was testing a new parachute though, so he jumped right at 5,500 feet, which is where you are supposed to open your chute. Because of course, if the parachute doesn’t work, it’s much safer to fall from 5,500 feet than from the whole 9,500.

via Google Images

(via Google Images)

At 9,500 feet (almost two miles, just so you’re aware), it was our turn. S fell first–‘diving’ is definitely a better term than jumping for this sport–and then I was up.

We scooted over to the open door, my tandem jumper and I, and then I was just dangling in mid-air looking out over the tops of mountains and at the mini-houses and roads below me and the almost two miles of empty air between me and them.

My tandem jumper sat on the very edge, so I was on hanging out off the edge of his knees. Let me tell you, that does not feel safe or secure in any way. I am getting mini adrenaline rushes just remembering.

I tried, like so many people before me, to grab the sides of the door. Then I remembered I had to hug my chest so I didn’t lose a hand when the instructor jumped.

I screamed the whole time. I’m not even going to front like I was brave. I wasn’t worried or scared, I was just flat out freaked the you-know-what out

These last three paragraphs took only about as many seconds, mind you.

And then we weren’t in the plane anymore. And then I was SO MAD at anyone who had ever told me skydiving doesn’t feel like falling.

YES IT DOES. You fall for 4,000 feet BEFORE YOUR PARACHUTE OPENS. That’s almost a MILE. Of FALLING. Of COURSE you feel like you’re falling!

The first 1,000 feet was the worst. When I left that plane, my stomach stayed seated comfortably in the door jamb while the rest of me fell for half a mile.

Then I started to remember all the leg and arm bending I was supposed to be doing.

Then Tandem Jumper opened our parachute.

My screams had turned to laughing somewhere between 8,000 and 6,000 feet, so by that time I was just flying high.

Pun semi-intended.

The ride down was better than any carnival ride. We would yank down on the right hand steering handle to make us go into a tight tale spin. We would turn far to the right and then far to the left and then back again so we swung around and around in circles.

I might be tempted to dive again, just for the parachute part of it.

S landed perfectly…until her instructor fell on top of her. Geeze.

My landing was beauteous. Just stepped right up onto the grass.

It really was a gorgeous day for it, too. Couldn’t have asked for better weather, or a better jumping partner.

Any skydive that ends with you in once piece is just peachy keen in my book.

Falling and loving it

Falling and loving it. Thank you Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures!

Getting ready to land!

Getting ready to land!

After the jump--gotta look fly to fly! (I'm so funny today, bahaha)

After the jump–gotta look fly to fly! (I’m so funny today, bahaha)

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

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I almost killed an old man with my groceries

Sometimes I think I’m the most ridiculous person I know.

And then I remember who my friends are.

But that’s getting off-topic.

I decided to do a massive trip to Costco, because the only way to do Costco is in massive trips, and because the only food in my apartment was some rice, some cornmeal (awaiting being made into hush puppies), and the ingredients for chocolate chocolate-chip pancakes.

In preparation, I packed a few good-sized plastic bags plus my drawstring-sports-bag into a backpack, and headed off to the store of bulky bulk purchases.

I meandered through the aisles, eventually deciding that I didn’t need 136 oz of ketchup but I would take the 8-pack of canned olives thankyouverymuch, and checked out.

And tried to cram everything into my bags.  Which I did almost successfully, but was left to carry the 8-pack of canned tomatoes in the crook of an arm–an arm that was shaking halfway through the trip.

They were heavier than they look...my back is really sore today!

A grand total of 1 1/2 people offered to help me through my 10 minute walk, 50 minute subway ride with two transfers, and bus ride home.  Yay Korea!

(I say 1/2 because I set two bags on the ground when I tried to maneuver my way through the subway turnstile, and a woman handed them back to me, shaking her head and probably muttering about how crazy foreigners are.)

Oh, the title.

So at the first subway transfer, there was a mass-rush of people coming down the stairs as I was trying to go up, so rather than get jostled and pushed and generally swung around by the 6 bags hanging off of various body parts, I nestled up to the side of the very-wide stairwell and let everyone pass.

Then an old man tried to go around behind me, got his foot caught on a grocery bag, and splayed out diagonally in front of me.  In my defense, I’m pretty sure he was already drunk.  Mostly because he was carrying a little meal-box from McDonald’s.  He was also really out of it but that could have been from the fall…

As a reward–for making it home, not for almost breaking the man’s legs–I made myself a smoothie with my newly-purchased frozen blueberries.

Yeah, I spilled. It's what I do. Gracefulness is overrated.