There are two kinds of people in the world.
Those who think you can put people into two categories and those who know better.
My two groups: People who skydive and people who observe those who skydive from the ground.
Watchers and doers.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with not jumping. There are many reasons — fear and finances chiefly among them — why people stay firmly on the ground. I just think it says a lot about a person who seeks out perhaps the most unforgettable and unique experience in the world — something exhilarating, crazy and scary all in one.
Certainly, it's a small group of us.
I had jumped before Sunday, and I will jump again after Sunday. Frankly, if it wasn't for the cost, I would jump almost any day. Each leap of faith is memorable, no matter if you have jumped a small handful of times or more than 6,000 times — like my Skydive Suffolk instructor, my new best friend as they like to say, Don Jaget.
So, there we were Sunday, staring out the door of a plane small enough it would frighten almost anyone.
After seconds of looking at the ground 13,500 feet below — gazing at the patchwork scenery, at Newport News and the Great Dismal Swamp — the 40-year-old Jaget and this 29-year-old step out the door. Falling at 120 mph, we flip a couple times, looking at the ground one second and the endless sky the next.
For 60-some seconds and 11,000 feet, I fly — waving my arms wildly and screaming as my cheeks flap through the wind.
There's just something about the free-fall; there's nothing like it.
At 2,500 feet, Jaget opens the canopy and transforms from adrenaline junkie to tour guide and counselor.
He points out downtown Suffolk. Then, he senses my intense fear of heights — not strange, even among the most frequent jumpers, including Jaget — is sinking in during our forever-long five-minute glide to the Earth.
He comforts me, tells me to keep talking. He points out milestone altitudes and makes me laugh, dropping lines he's used probably 6,000 times and has worked 6,000 times.
With about 1,000 feet to go, my hands are tingling and I am feeling faint. He steers my limp body toward the landing zone.
Five forgettable minutes that in no-way take away from the one previous minute of pure bliss and joy.
It's not a crash landing, but it certainly isn't a Perfect 10. I pretty much land on my butt and fall to the side. My better half, who was documenting this whole adventure, thought for a split-second to sit down her camera and sprint to make sure I was OK.
Mere seconds later, she knew I was.
Proud to jump, live on the edge
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