Do you ever have times when you think what the bleeping hell am I doing here? That thought popped into my head as I was being strapped into a heavy belt contraption by an older French man called Serge, trying to avoid eye contact as he hoisted me into this strange get up between my legs. Serge spoke very basic English, so was less interested in making small talk and more interested in tying the straps between my thighs as I flushed with embarrassment, and also mild concern I may not be able to have children as he had tied them so tight.
They needed to be tight as I was soon to be strapped to pervy eyed Serge* and clinging on for dear life. Please DO pull at that buckle as I don’t want any chance of plummeting to my death alone. Don’t worry, I wasn’t at some dodgy French bondage event but preparing to do my first ever skydive.
To set the scene let me take you back a few weeks earlier, in the run up to my 30th birthday. I’d casually mentioned to my family how cool it’d be to say I jumped out of a plane for my big 3-0. Metaphorically jumping into this new decade of my life, full of excitement of what was to come. You know you say these things but forget to imagine they may actually happen? Well it happened.
My amazing family all chipped in to buy me this experience so before I knew it I was dressed in a lumionous babygro, and tied up to Serge. Fear etched on my face, unable to comprehend just what I was about to do. A small part of me was super excited to be the girl that says nonchalantly, ‘oh for my birthday I jumped out of a plane, no biggie.’
But a larger more rational part of me was screaming ‘what the hell are you doing Katy?! You nearly died falling off a volcano so why put yourself through it again?’ I ignored her shrieking tones and forced myself to try and understand the skydive briefing sesh, all in French, paranoid I would miss some vital piece of information as I didn’t understand the language. Check out my terrified-but-trying-to-stay-calm face, that’s not fooling anyone!
If you’d said to me five years ago that for my 30th I’d be strapped to a French man jumping out of a plane, I’d have told you to see a doctor for whatever drugs you were obviously taking. I’ve never been bitten by the adrenalin bug when I was younger, always much happier to stay safe on solid ground. But the older I’ve got the more I’ve realise that life is more fun when you say YES to things (even if at the time you are cacking yourself wishing you were more of a NO girl).
Sooner than I was fully ready for, we were packed in a tiny plane. The others laughing and joking as I silently prayed to anyone that would listen to not let me die. The hatch opened and one by one people tumbled out. I was the last to go. We shuffled over to the door and I swung my legs out and looked down. I’ve been on Oblivion at Alton Towers so why did I look down! That was so surreal, my legs dangling 3300m high but my bum still safely inside, until Serge rocked back and we flew out.
Spinning, tumbling, turning so fast so all I could see was colour, unable to differentiate between sky and ground. Cold air rushing up my nose and for a few seconds I panicked that this was taking a lot longer than I’d imagined to OPEN THE GODDAMN PARACHUTE!!
About 50 seconds of this nauseating turning later Serge eventually pulled the cord. What happened next was one of the best experiences of my life. Floating through the clouds, not a single noise, just a feeling of immense peace and calmness. I would have cried if my eyeballs hadn’t been so cold.
Forget the adrenalin of falling from the plane this was the best bit. Just flying through the sky weightlessly. I wish I could fully explain how happy this made me. This sense of achievement that I was amongst the birds, alive, so lucky to have this experience, and had overcome the pre-nerves and panic. Neither of us spoke. I just drank it all in bursting with emotion.
I didn’t even think of the landing part as I felt so peaceful, it didn’t matter, nothing mattered. As it turned out it was really easy. I lifted my legs up, gripping onto the dayglo fabric, as Serge half ran half walked onto the grass and unbuckled me. My legs were like jelly, my hands were blocks of ice but I felt so euphoric that I’d completed my first ever skydive and survived!!
It still amazes me the power of saying YES, of pushing fear right back down to where it belongs and jumping feet first into whatever comes your way, whether it is free falling in the sky or daring to take a risk. Just do it!
*Serge turned out to be the lovliest man ever by the way. The same probably can’t be said for the shrieking English girl strapped to him.
I filmed my day! If you want to check out more of my terrified face, shaky camera skills and blurry footage (I mean who wouldn’t after that sell?!) then check out my YouTube page NWOD YouTube or click the vid below!