My very first skydive.

Monday, May 23, 2011

First Day of School

When you throw out statements like this: "either way I will be the woman jumping out of a perfectly good airplane this weekend" to the Universe, you are practically inviting the Universe to say "Ha!".

Actually what the Universe said was: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

But before I explain that, I should start at the beginning.

I arrived in Orange, MA for Skydiving Camp on Wednesday night. I checked in at the
Wagon Wheel Campground and settled into my parent's palatial RV. If lending me their taveling home wasn't love enough-I opened the fridge to find this:

Three ice-cold Long Trail ales.

(Quick review: Beer=actual carb. Gesture made by my dear father=mental carb.)

Thursday morning, I arrived bright eyed and bushy-tailed for my AFF ground school. Oddly, Jumptown was more like like a ghost town - it was damp and overcast-and the only bit of blue was my lone car in the parking lot. Gray (his name not his palor) greeted me in the office and introduced me to Andreas-my Instructor. I can tell right away that Andreas has been skydiving for a very long time. It's not that he is old, or that his ego is huge (both of these may be true but they aren't evident to me)- it's more that he seems completely at home in the hangar and I sense he could run the AFF class in his sleep. He's comes accross as affable but reserved- content enough to be teaching me about his sport there is something a little overcast about his demeanor. He mentions that it has been a very rough start to the season-not much sunshine, not much jumping. I also know that within the last year and a half they have lost two members of the Jumptown inner circle -one to illness and one to an accident-and I can't help but wonder if there is still the heaviness of grief hanging about. He gives me a brief tour of the place and leads me back to the AFF classroom.

The next 8 hours are spent covering every possible problem one could experience getting on an airplane in order to jump out of it. "Cut away and pull my reserve" became such a standard response that it no longer scares me. Despite the fact that the information I was learning was well outside of the realm of anything I had previously been exposed to, I did really well for about 3/4 of the day. I was right with him through every canopy malfunction, the whole dive flow, aircraft emergencies, hand signals and landing plans. However, when it came time for the test, it was as though someone cut of the top of my head, tipped me upside down and dumped my brain out onto the ground. (Honestly, I feel like I have seen that exact animation in a Monty Python sketch.)

The first question was so easy I thought it was a joke.

1."Where is the parachute located?"

I looked at Andreas, furrowed my brow and said "Really?" He smirked at me and then gave me a short lecture about skydiving drawing in people from across the intellectual and educational spectrums and that the test was designed to make sure you knew what you were doing. Chagrined, I ducked my head a bit and wrote down 'bottom, right-hand side'. I got the next few right, in part because they were equally as obvious ("arch", "cut away and pull my reserve", etc) But I kind of bombed some of the bigger questions. I knew them, but couldn't articulate them. This frustrated me-as someone who likes having the right answers and it annoyed Andreas-as someone who expected me to have the right answers.

We muddled though and at the end of the day he signed off on my test and essentially cleared me to jump. As much as I really wanted to, I was exhausted so I wasn't completely disappointed that it was still too gray to go up. I mean, I had ALL day Friday, Saturday and Sunday right?

This is where the Universe started laughing at me.

I woke up on Friday to the same weather I had on Thursday. I called Gray and he informed me of that which I already knew: there would be no jumping on Friday.

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