I decided to take on Hawaii without plans wanting to leave the adventure a good deal to chance.
I boarded Hawaiian Airlines in LA and booked my hotel for that night just as we were preparing to take off. I decided on a town I had heard of my entire life…the infamous Waikiki. I knew that I only wanted to be on Oahu for a couple days- so as we landed I booked a flight to Maui two days out . I shared a cab with a sweet older couple I had befriended on the plane and still managed to get ripped off by the cabby.
Knowing I only had one full day, I figured I would buckle down, set up my computer and work by the beach and expect that Maui would truly start my Hawaiian adventure. I checked into my hotel on the beach, changed into my bathing suit and headed to the restaurant on the beach to knock out a bit of work. (because I AM working from the road.) I order a bite at Dukes, get some good work done and I decide to jump in the ocean before the sun disappears.
I park it on the shoreline and check out the scene. Sweet couples here for Valentine’s Day yada yada, families chasing their kids, … This beach is pretty busy and has some serious action/nightlife going on. I sat somewhat close to a catamaran that was taking a sunset cruise and knew in my heart that I wanted to join,… but I JUST got to the island and thought I shouldn’t rush into the first touristy adventure I see. I keep peeping at the boat and watching it fill with couple after couple. The Hawaiian fella working the boat looked over and waved for me to come join, I nod my head no thinking the boat will get packed, and anyways- the seat I wanted (the netting pockets in the front) had been occupied. T-Time was close and the Hawaiian fella looks at me once more, waves me over to join and once again I nod no… and realize that DO want to join, frantically bundle all my belongings and hustle onto the boat. I gingerly bang my head on the metal poll upon my entrance, take a quick recovery breathe and find a seat.
I sit up on a perch while the boat takes to the ocean. A couple big splashes and the fella laying in the netted seat jumped up and happily welcomes me to it, since I was in a bathing suit. The water came and we got soaked. With a bandana protecting my beer from the salt water I made friends with two couples and this is where my first 24 took a turn.
We make it to land and say our goodbyes to the Hawaiian fella and the captain.
The two couples:
Jason and Emily: Locals to the island and complete hardcore life lovers.
Joey and Robin: young twenties on their honeymoon (and we’re sure they married to have sex) enough said- they were sweet as could be.
The five of us walk down the strip, see a Hawaiian Hula Dance and hit a local joint with an incredible view. We were drinky drinky as we felt it our duty to teach these youngsters how delicious good tequila could be. We get talking about skydiving and I mention I had always wanted to jump but could never get the nerve to execute. Jason and Emily mention that they are going tomorrow morning and invite me. I can only assume I was completely crocked when I answered, “Yes”. Emily had me take my phone out and we reserved my spot…credit card and all.
It’s 5 am, I’m wide awake and sick to my core wishing the next handful of hours were over. I couldn’t get back to sleep and received a text from Emily, “Rise and shine”. They said they would pick me up outside at 6:30. I told them I would be easily identifiable as I was the gal in black wearing black boots shitty herself. I got in the car and we watched the sunrise as we crossed the island to make it to the North shore. I ask Jason how he was feeling and he replied, “Less than 100%”. This is bad right? What if I’m less than 100 %. Can I get out of this jump. Can I just watch…. and so on and so on. Emily calmly explained that I would be great and everything would be fine. An absolute angel. I wouldn’t tell my family what I was doing until it was over. I gave Emily my phone just in case.
We arrive at Pacific Skydiving Honolulu and Emily sits with me and assists me filling out paperwork as I am unable to focus.
Note: It is unbelievably difficult to sign your life away. Literally, initialing on the lines…many many lines, one after another. So challenging to go against every warning sign your body is telling you. I am accustomed to following my senses- listening and reacting. But this, this was tough. I forced myself against everything my sane state was desperately trying to offer.
I watch one person after another land and start to ease up. Jason and Emily asked that their buddy Ron take me in tandem. He was incredible. This week marked Ron’s 10,000 jumps in turn elevating my level of confidence. He made horrifying jokes like, “There is only one thing that can go wrong, only one- and if it does, you know who’s fault it is right? All me- and it wouldn’t be good.” We quickly run through the procedure. I have only a few things to do and they were all to stay out of his way. Keep my hands tucked, toss my legs back and out of his way, and lift legs on landing Easy enough. We get on the little plane and there are two benches. Ron and I are in front… we will be second to jump. At this point I become very aware of my breathing and mortality. Since we are physically connected, Ron can feel my deep panicky breathing and starts to talk about the island and the air, rain, clouds, and I honestly heard nothing other than, air, rain, clouds. I told him that I am having a strange feeling, I don’t understand what my body is feeling. He assured me that I was experiencing pure fear. It had been some time since I had been in the company of this feeling.
Ron instructed me to hold my body as a rag doll when it came to our turn, to do absolutely nothing. I was happy that Jason and Emily advised me to use the restroom before getting on the plane. There was a photo snapped capturing the absolute terror of watching someone decide to jump out…and I was next. On the way up, Ron had explained that our mind has a hangup on the plane door. Once we are out, I will forget the fear and be in the moment.
I edged to the door and remained as a rag doll, looked out, and before I could say ‘holy fu*king shi…’ we were out and free falling. Ron was 100% right. Once we were free falling, I hadn’t a care. I was in the moment and not even concerned about the parachute. I looked out and it was majestic. They had explained that having a camera guy will alter and enhance the experience… it was true. (would also drive the price up:) Having another person up there with me- in my arms length gave me perspective as to what was happening to me. In the 60 second drop I got used to seeing Jay (the camera guy), and time became super slow. I tilted my head like a puppy in question when Jay blew a kiss goodbye and flew down to the earth so quickly. Jetting away from me so quickly, I felt sad in the moment, as a baby might feel when having something taken away. As Jay sped to the earth, Ron pulled the cord and I we were jacked upward. It was like a dream as I went from a meteor racing to the earth and instantly transformed into a drifting bird.
THE CANOPY DRIFT
I could see three islands as we floated through the air. Ron pointed out beautiful bits of the landscape as I oddly felt all my organs sort themselves out and settle into their natural spots within my body. Ron kindly made a few minor adjustments so that the ladies were no longer nudging my neck to make room. And at this moment, life was spectacular…the chute had opened… I forgot that was the main concern. I felt like a bird. We made barreling circles and pulled left and right with ease. Ron handed me the straps to steer the canopy. We circled a few more times and as I took it all in. I felt huge- I had just taken on one of my greatest fears and desires. To push myself and allow others to push me towards my goals is incredibly rewarding. It is healthy to drive ourselves beyond known comfort zones.
As I float from this dream closer to the earth I see Jason and Emily at the fence and I hold my arms out. I can’t believe I finally did it and I am so happy that these two beautiful individuals had my back in this part of my journey. They helped me to be better and for that I am grateful. It was now time to land. I lift my legs and am elated to feel the earth beneath me once again. My old friend, the earth- the ground, in the most perfect place, under my feet.
After many heartfelt hugs and waves of gratitude to Ron for not killing me, I said my thanks to all that were involved and happily hopped into the backseat ready for a stiff drink and some well deserved kickback time on the beaches. By 10:30 am Jason, Emily and I raised our margarita’s to life, landing and new friends. I would see them again in Kauai for a hike along the Napali Coast.