Approximately two years ago I went static line skydiving.

My dad wasn’t exactly impressed to learn that I would be jumping out of an tiny, little, aeroplane at 3 000 feet with nothing but a ripstop nylon bag to stop me from making contact with the ground, head first. Then again nothing impresses my dad.

Me: “Hey dad, guess what? I got an entrance scholarship to UCT.”
Dad: “Sid stop talking kak and put your mom on the phone.”

That’s a true story. For once I’m not embellishing a single detail.

Now there are three types of skydiving: static line, tandem and accelerated freefall. Tandem parachuting is when you jump out the plane with a certified professional and he takes care of all the annoying details, like pulling the ripcord which will open your parachute. Static is where a cord connects your parachute to the aeroplane so that when you jump your parachute will open up automatically. Accelerated freefall is for people with money.

Since there are certain risks associated with jumping out of a plane (who would have thought?), and since we (I had dragged along two other people to participate in the faux suicide with me) had chosen the static line option we would require training. Now I’m the type of person who likes to live in a world where there is no crime, suffering and poverty and where eating your body weight in chocolate doesn’t result in any weight gain whatsoever. To be able to live in denial requires that I block out any information that might in anyway throw my cosy little world off balance. This meant that I wasn’t giving my full attention to any instructions given. (Yeah, I’m a dipshit.) What I did however manage to catch was that when we got out of the plane we would be placing out feet on a miniscule step before grabbing hold of the strut above our heads. Grabbing hold of the strut with both hands meant that you were no longer standing on the step. You were simply hanging there in the air. Upon hearing this news I started having doubts about the whole thing and was extremely glad when the adventure was postponed to the next day, due to bad weather.

Come the next day I’m jocking for the opportunity to be the last person to jump out of the plane. Luckily for me there’s only one person fighting for this position. Everyone else is excited to meet their maker. The other person wins last place due to a technicality – he weighs more than me – and I get second place.

I am extremely calm on lift off and throughout the entire plane ride. I am calm until the instructor opens the aeroplane door and I feel the rush of wind on my face. It’s cold and it’s noisy. The sound of the engine and the wind leaves this empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. My hands feel strange, not my own. I don’t really want to do this. This is insanity but I proceed to climb on the step and grab onto the strut. I’m hanging in the air, floating effortlessly. I look down and then over to my instructor. He gives me the heads up to jump. I look down at the earth once more. It’s a long way down and I start to wonder how easy it would be for me to climb back into the plane. Realising that this would be an impossible feat and that I have no choice but to jump, I let go, arch my back and count down.

They say your parachute is supposed to open within five seconds. If it doesn’t you have to deploy your emergency parachute. Mine opens within three seconds. Three seconds might not seem like a very long time but when you’re falling 200km/h, three seconds feels like an eternity. It’s enough time for you to start thinking about what-ifs. Amazingly I manage to land on the ground without any major mishaps and within the designated area. I do however land with my ass on the ground but I don’t care. I’m alive.

Would I do this again? Yes. For weeks after jumping I had this feeling of euphoria. The whole experience feels so surreal. I can’t believe that little old me, who is afraid of absolutely everything. I’m this nervous wreck who is constantly second guessing herself, who is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am the girl who is never sure of what the right thing to say or do is and I honestly wish the universe would give me a little hint sometimes.

Skydiving

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