My very first skydive.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Friday's weather thwarts me completely. Jessica and I have a fabulous time together-laughing until the beer comes out of our noses. It's so rare, now that my sisters have children, that we are ever on our own. I adore my nieces and nephew-wouldn't trade them for anything in the world-but those 36 hours with Jess were serious 'mental carbs'.

We woke up on Saturday to (insert hysterical laughter from the Universe here) MORE gray skies. But it was inconceivable! to us that I wouldn't be jumping at least once that day so we decided to make our way to the DZ anyway. Jessica consumes about 6 of my Decaf French Vanilla Keurig K-Cups trying to ward off a caffeine withdrawal headache. To no avail (I know, shocking, eh?)-so we make the first order of business programming our GPS for the nearest Dunkin Donuts.

When we arrive at the DZ, the parking lot is 1/3 full-the regulars have come for the weekend. As they crane their necks to look up, it is obvious that their withdrawal from blue skies runs far deeper than Jessica's little coffee 'problem'.

People are hanging out at the picnic tables, by the plane, on the orange and blue couches inside and in the office/manifest area. Quite a few people are packing chutes and a few are stumbling over from the camping area, in varying stages of sleepy-ness. I put my name up on the dry erase board with the letter A next to it. That tells them I am here, want to make a jump and it's my category A skydive. I go to find Andreas to see if he has any hopeful news about the weather. I turn my back for a few moments to chat with Andreas and when I turn around Jessica is deep in conversation with someone so I wander out the tables and chairs next to the hangar and turn my face up to the little sliver of sun peeking through the clouds.

When Jessica joins me, she is wearing a bit of a smile-one I haven't seen her in for a very long time. Apparently she ran into one of her skydiving friends, someone she hadn't seen for several years. Throughout the day, I notice that as people chat with us, she refers to me as the newbie, here to do her first jump-but she also refers to herself as a skydiver, one with well over 600 jumps.

This is significant because she hasn't jumped since the birth of her daughter in 2008. I don't need to have a child to know how much being a mother changes you, your priorities, your willingness to take risks with your life. I'm quite sure my sister isn't the first mother to make sacrifices in her personal life in order to manage her family life. I know she can't imagine putting Nella in the position of growing up without a mother just so that she can pursue what she thinks of as her adrenaline junkie past-times. She owns that decision 100% but I also know deep down, she misses the freedom of skydiving and that part of her identity.

It fills me with a profound sense of joy to see her reclaim some of that. It really doesn't matter if she decides to skydive again or not-it just matters to me that she remembers how important it is to hold on to yourself - and - to find your community.

You know...the place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came...even if you don't get to jump out an airplane that day.

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