When people turn 21, most have dreams of a weekend in Las Vegas. They want to gather their friends around and pick one of them to be the designated driver for the night so the celebrating 21-year old will have a babysitter in close proximity. The 21-year old will usually ingest obscene amounts of alcohol and if he/she is lucky they survive into the next day. Most likely the “new adult” spends the next 48 hours nursing a horrendous hangover with remedies that range from more alcohol (I’ll never know why people order Bloody Mary’s after a night of binging) to drinking gallons of a liquid sports drinks or buying Alka Seltzer. Be careful however if you are in Ireland because their cure for a hangover is to bury you up to your neck in moist river sand.
When my oldest knew the moment of true adulthood was upon him, he wanted to do one thing and it didn’t have anything to do with alcohol. “Mom, I want to go skydiving. With you.” I would assume that his skydiving idea was something ‘out of the blue’ but I know better. Kids remember things we tell them. In fact, sometimes they remember with such detail that its scary.
Apparently, my then-21 year old remembered the story I told him some years back about my skydiving experience when I was in college. Three friends of mine and I decided to drive up to Medford, Oregon at two in the morning and jump out of an airplane. The leader of the pack was a friend who had already experienced the thrill of falling through the sky and thought that we should have the same experience. It didn’t matter to us that it was in the middle of the night when we started north on Highway 101 from Arcata all the way to Medford. We were young and full of spirit and adventure.
We arrived just in time for our eight o’clock class which lasted four hours. I remember toward the end of the class having to jump on the ground from about four feet up which was supposed to simulate the actual ground landing. It didn’t. My landing wasn’t, how would a professional skydiver say, “on the mark?” Cutting to the chase, I missed the target and landed in a field of thistle plants and thistle plants have sticky thorns attached to every stem. Lets just say picking me out of the thistle field was a mess. But I loved the skydiving part of the story.
I know I left some choice pieces of that tale out of the edited version I told my little Capricorn but I’m guessing he remembered the part when I said, “It was amazing…the most ‘quiet’ I’ve ever experienced.” And he also remembered me telling him that I promised I wouldn’t go skydiving again until both kids were 18. I was sort of hoping he’d forget that part. He didn’t.
I remember trying to come up with several reasons why I shouldn’t go skydiving that year and here was my pathetic list:
l I’ll have to tell my mother
l There are things on my body that flap around in the wind that didn’t when I was 20.
l My bladder isn’t as strong as it used to be
l I have a novel to finish
l I can’t remember where my life insurance policy is…or if I have one
l I’ll have to tell my mother
But a promise is a promise and I will eventually jump out of an airplane with my oldest. I think I even called the younger of the two-man swarm and asked him if he wanted to join us.
“Are you kidding me?,” Erik said emphatically. “I don’t want to see the ground coming at me that fast but I’ll be on the ground tanning, waiting for the both of you to land but I ain’t jumping out of a plane. I’m too pretty to die this young.”
It’s now 2012 and a few years after my oldest turned 21. In 2010 I watched as my husband jumped out of an airplane with his daughters for his birthday but I have yet to do the deed with my son. I suppose I should get it over with and stop with the excuses.
Speaking of excuses, he’s a dad now. Maybe he’ll want to wait until his daughter is 18. If that’s the case, then I’ll have another 15.3 months to get up the courage to jump out of a plane again.
By that time it can be a true family affair. I hope they have airplanes that can hold nine people because jumping out of an airplane with my entire family would be a dream come true.