This I Believe

jeffrey - gardnerville, Nevada
Entered on December 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change
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Skydive Switzerland

I believe that every person has that one magical second where life passes them by and they enter their independence of adulthood. For me that one second turned into about 30 seconds of pure adrenaline. In the cold mountains of Interlaken Switzerland, I found my independence and entered my adulthood.

As the small commuter plane slowly lifted off the remote airstrip in the Swiss Alps, I realized it was too late to turn back. I looked around the cramped plane for some reassurance and saw my three best friends staring back for the same comfort. It was only one night ago when Anna, Mandy, Kevin and I stumbled to the hostel drunk and paid for the, “Experience of a lifetime”. Little did we know that this experience was “non refundable” and sounded much more dangerous sober.

The plane raced upward to its destination of 15,000 ft. The small man strapped to my back looked at his partner and whispered, “one hundred kilos”. 100kg was apparently the maximum weight capacity for a skydiver, and it also happened to be my exact weight at the time. I peered out the window to get comfortable with my surroundings. The magnificent Alp Mountains were covered in fresh white snow as far as the eye could see. The jagged mountain peaks soured out of the ground, as if God himself had reached down and pinched them out of the earth. The sky was blue and the sun was shinning down on the fresh white blanket of snow. I looked to my right and saw Boris, our camera man. He peered out the window with me and pointed to the peeks that lay in Italy, France and Switzerland.

I could see these peaks very cleanly now, which meant only one thing; it was almost jump time! My forehead began to sweat, my hands clammed up, and the once cluster phobic cabin became suddenly comfortable. I could feel the tension in the plane start to build. I turned to my best friend Anna for comfort. Her big brown eyes looked back at me. The woman’s face I once knew so well, instantly turned into a scared little girl, as I watched a tear trickle down her cheek.

Suddenly and without warning the small red light above our head started flashing. “Its jump time!” Everyone began moving into position. James, the small man strapped to my back, began pulling and tightening every harness, until I could hardly breath. I became lightheaded and my hands started to shake.

The light turned solid red and the door swung open. James and I scooted over to the open door. We sat on the base of the door, dangling our feet off the plane. I ventured out for a peek and saw the nothingness that I was about to jump into. I could feel the adrenalin pumping through my veins until my whole body went completely numb. James grabbed my hands and placed them in an X across my body. “Are you ready?” he yelled. I didn’t even have a chance to reply because I was interrupted with a countdown of. “3…. 2…. 1….”

I felt my body tumbling and spinning helplessly to the earth. I felt my stomach shoot to the bottom of my feet and jump back to the top of my head. I positioned my body into a jumping jack pose as they had taught us. Our bodies became parallel with the earth and I could see the Swiss Valley approaching ever so fast. The cold mountain air raced by my face so fast that it pushed the tears out of my eyes. The feeling of falling had subsided now and a peace came over my body.

Thirty seconds later James pulled the parachute cord and we floated, back and forth like a feather, to the ground. When we reached the ground I felt the security and reassurance of safety come back to me. I realized that I had experienced a moment of a lifetime. I could feel the confidence and excitement oozing out of my body.

A thousand miles away from family, friends and any familiar surroundings I felt a sense of independence come over me. The adrenaline of skydiving had made me feel free. The child that went up in that plane had come down as a man. And for that one second in the cold mountains of Interlaken Switzerland, I found my independence and entered my adulthood