My beautiful girlfriend, Natalia Elizabeth, and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary by jumping out of a plane together: a tradition my oldest brother, Jeremy, started about 10 or so years ago. His thought process behind taking his girlfriend, now wife, was that “if she’s not going to end up with me, I’m making damn sure she won’t forget me and our first anniversary,” in a joking but also serious way. I am the youngest of 3, so when my other brother, Josh, took his girlfriend, now wife, to go skydiving as well, I knew that one day I’d be doing that at some point too (I was fairly young when my brother’s started dating, so thanks for the tips, guys).
If I could put my experience of skydiving into a few words I’d have to say: uncomfortably beautiful. I say uncomfortable because it’s like starting something new for the first time; it’s hard to drown out the negative thoughts and anxieties while you’re preparing for what you’re about to do. As we got geared up with our suits and parachutes, my instructor (who was awesome) began to tell me what I need to do and what to be aware of as we’re free-falling. I was overwhelmed thinking about what I’m about to do, so I naturally did that thing where I stare at a person and nod my head as I know/hear what their saying, but afterwards not registering a word they said. I reminded myself that he’s on my back for a reason, so I focused on what I’ll be learning from this experience instead of thinking negatively like, “holy crap…I guess we’re doing this.” It also helped me when I saw the look on Natalia’s face. It was the definition of nervousness, but she played it off well as she stared at me with a forced, but undoubtedly gorgeous smile.
The beauty of the experience is after the intense and, what seemed like, violent free-fall. The free-fall only lasts for about a minute or so as you’re moving towards the Earth at about 120 mph. The most memorable part for me is the transition from free-fall to floating. After my parachute was open, I was able to look to my right and see my girlfriend go through the same transition, which was the biggest relief. I was also able to look down and see my mother, who had surprised us on the drive there that she was going to jump with us…she’s a bad-ass, I know. After realizing my family is safe, it was all fun and games as the instructors taught me how to twirl down and adjust my gear (which is necessary because the suit can get in some pretty awkward positions). I knew the calming view and floating would end soon, so I tried to admire the position I was in for as long as possible. I can tell you now that this is by far the best part of the experience.
After landing, the feeling of reuniting with my family was one of a kind as all of us just experienced something so amazing for the first time, together. Natalia, despite her doubts beforehand, automatically wanted to sign up for another jump. She really loves her adrenaline rushes, no matter how nervous she gets beforehand. If you’re doubting the experience, I suggest you to just try it for yourself. I guarantee you won’t regret it as, for me, it helped reassure to enjoy the moment and the experience – which you can carry with you throughout your life.