Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Facing My Fears like the Damn Chicken I Am.

I'm afraid of a lot of things.  Public speaking, old age, sushi, my high school reunion, karaoke, large social gatherings, those weird Sesame Street clock martians.  You remember?  I don't recall if they ever did anything worthwhile other than hang out next to some clock while trying not to be creepy.  Which they failed at.  Miserably.  

Creepy little non-talking clock lingerers. 
Another big one for me?  Heights.  And those weird hairless cats.  And driving a stick shift.  It's actually a ridiculously long list of things I'm afraid of.  And that bothers me a lot.  I don't like to be afraid.  Especially when I know it's something I might like but am too chicken to give it a shot.

Except for sushi.  I keep trying it and it never fails to suck.

Which is why, for the last couple of years, I've been trying things I'd normally automatically reject.  Like the 5k mud run, co-ed softball, (still can't believe I didn't get my face smashed in with a bat) attending the optional giant work conference thingie, co-ed volleyball, indoor soccer without knowing the damn rules.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you”.  And to that I say, HELL to the no.  My stress levels are high enough, thank you.  I’m aiming for once a month.  But WHY?  I’ve actually taken 5 minutes to think about why such little things scare me.  Like Volleyball, for instance.  What is the worst that could happen?  I’ll fall over and look stupid?  Oh yeah, that happened during every game.  And I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself. 

Okay, the work thingie.  I’ll say socially inappropriate things, crack lame jokes that aren’t funny, and again, look stupid.  Yup, did all of those things but everyone was on their 4th or 5th drink so I could have been farting the alphabet and no one would have cared.

Skydiving.  Worst that could happen?  My chute won’t open, I’ll plummet to my death and land in a tangled, broken heap that is the complete opposite of graceful and again, look totally stupid.  Just kidding.  I’d be dead.  So who cares! 

When it comes down to it, I don’t want to embarrass myself and look stupid.  However, I usually do anyway, and it turns out I’m having a blast doing it.  I’ve realized as long as I can get over myself, I’ll enjoy whatever it is I’ve signed on for…as least this has been the case so far.  And yes, even with skydiving.  Gah!  Just thinking about it is making me get all sweaty and heart-beaty.

 E1 recently had his 42nd birthday.  To celebrate, we jumped out of a plane.  E2 has made it very clear that he has no intention of ever doing such a fool-hardy thing and was more than happy to turn me over to E1 for this adventure.

And it was awesome, as evidenced by the photo of me below.

But not really.  Cause I'm not a dude.  Or black.

 We checked in, were instructed to watch a video basically instructing you on how NOT to die but since E1 had been skydiving before, deemed it a waste of time and instead focused his energies on distracting me from learning how to avoid certain death.  By taking fake butt pictures.



And then we waited.

And I got nervous.  Which manifests itself in numerous pee trips as well as mass quantities of sweat.  In fact, let me share with you a conversation E2 and I had on our most recent camping trip while eating M&M's.

E2:  M&M's melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
Me:  That's bullshit.  They always melt in my hands.
E2:  You have freakishly sweaty hands.  It's like the same as being in your mouth.  Look at that!  I can see it glistening on your palms now.  Give me 5 minutes and I could go swimming in all the sweat that collects in your palms. 

On this day of skydiving, you could have gone swimming in my palms. 

On the upside, I shat not my pants.  Nor did E1.  We took precautions.

Via the honey bucket of shame.

Then we waited some more.  While some stray child had an awkward staring contest with E1's tattoo from two inches away.

I think the tattoo won but who can say for sure since everyone knows children aren't to be trusted.
FINALLY it was our turn and we met the instructors who were to be strapped to our backs.  I don't remember a lot, just that they kept cracking jokes about how they'll be allowed to be real certified instructors after this jump...or something equally encouraging.

We pile into the plane and sit single file, straddling a bench.  After a much too short flight, the door opens and I suddenly can't hear anything but the wind gushing in my ears.  The first dude is silhouetted against the opening.  I blink and suddenly he's not there.  I can't help but think "holy effing shit this was the worst idea ever".

My instructor screams into my ear, "Provided the chute opens, we'll talk about the landing on the way down".

Awesome.

I'm shoved into the doorway of the plane.  Instructor counts to three...or something.  I can't hear anything over the beating of my heart and my inner voice of logic telling me not to allow my one and only body to hurl itself out of a plane 13,000 feet off the ground. 

Then my back was arched, arms flying behind me and I was pretty sure I was incurring frost bite on my face and ears.  The free-fall lasted for a good 17 hours before he finally pulled the chute.  But after that?  AHHMAZING.

He let me take hold of the...crap I don't even know what they're called.  Controlly things.  I pulled one side and we'd spin left.  Pull the other, we spun right.  I absolutely loved it.

The landing was unremarkable.  E1 was already down there waiting for me.  Feet up, soft landing on the butt.  I asked E1 how he liked it.

His response of, "His penis touched my back." when referring to his instructor, to me, clearly indicates he enjoyed it.  But, the best part of all?


No pee stains on the shoes.  Happy effing birthday E1.