Tuesday, November 3, 2009

my year of living dangerously....

... or you could just say adventurously. or you could say that the old, more-than-a-bit-wussy marisa is out and the new, hard-core marisa is in!

granted, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is much truth (at least for me) in that statement.

in 2009 i have attempted snowboarding (see previous post), road biking (didn't write a post on that, but totally should), and last but not least, skydiving. yes, you read that correctly. skydiving.

now, before delving into the latest adventure, i must preface all of this by saying i did not go quietly. i am about as scared as you can get in all these arenas and it was only thanks to the patience of someone who encouraged me, that i was able to face and conquer (at least in my way of conquering) many of my deep-seated fears.

very grudgingly, i decided to join a group of friends for a skydiving adventure as part of some birthday celebrations. the day was halloween 2009. after about a week of calling skydive monterey and knowing all the staff by name (i may or may not have called them 3 or 4 times to help quell my fright) and also of course, reading everything i could about how to tandem skydive for the first time... i was ready?

bleary-eyed i arose early saturday morning, bundled up and headed to meet our crew. the drive to monterey went quickly and it was looking like we would possibly have to wait out the fog, but luckily (though let's be honest, at the moment i did not consider it luck!) by the time we arrived at the "drop-zone" it was a typical northern california blue sky.

we crowded into the small office to get our 10-page release forms - which stated about 20 times that "parachuting activities" are "inherently dangerous and may result in injury or death" - and filled them out as quickly as possible as we joked and laughed about the wording (e.g., there may be some "inappropriate touching" as you get strapped to your instructor). This is where I have to mention that my paper had a heart with the letters “e.c.” and two names listed. (“e.c.”=extra care. they were ready for me.)

after a few hours of jokes, many more questions by yours truly and laughter, we were suited up, the plane was ready and group 1 (my group!) boarded - yikes!

raff, my tandem jumpmaster, with over 12,000 jumps under his belt, was kind and gentle. you could see his passion for skydiving in his brown, grandpa-like eyes and he made me feel like all would be well.

we filed onto the aircraft and as soon as i sat down on the bench realized i would be first. i took many deep breaths as we zoomed off into the air, higher and higher. raff talked me through what we would be doing and then, before i knew it i heard a voice from the front boom, “open door!” and that is exactly what the cameraman did.

“ok, let’s go,” said raff calmly. i followed the instructions he gave and thought, “oh my gosh, i’m going to jump out of this plane!” raff crossed my arms in front of me, tilted my head to left and the next second i was flying through the air. i honestly can’t explain the feeling i had. surreal may be the correct word. alongside exhilarating and awesome, in the true sense of the word.

i was flying. i could see the world below. mountains. sky. ocean. checkerboard patterns of the fields below. the wind whipped around me at 120 mph, but i was floating. it was amazing. i did as raff had recommended before we took off: i looked around and enjoyed the moment i was living. barring a few seconds here or there where i couldn't catch a breath, it was worth every penny. before i knew it the parachute was deployed; my adrenaline was pumping. the earth moved closer and closer and i landed on the field, safely, with all my friends greeting and cheering. i was smiling ear to ear. i couldn't stop. i didn’t stop for a long time.

i came. I saw. i worried. i jumped. i flew. i enjoyed. i conquered.

my year of living dangerously has been a rousing success. can’t wait for the next adventure…


leonardo said...

awesome. you are totally awesome. and really brave.

donatello said...

thanks leo. you are to kind. not sure if i am either, but i am sure trying to be! :)

miss you always-


Katie said...

Wow! Your writing about skydiving makes me want to do it. Thanks for sharing such an adventurous and awesome moment in your life. It gave me a taste of what it was like!! I love you Marisa and I am so proud!!!

jackie said...

i'm not sure what's scarier, that you went skydiving, or that you did it with a gargoyle :) jk, that first picture just threw me off, then i remembered you went on halloween :)

Brettman said...


That is pretty freak'n awesome. I had to chuckle a little as I read the post because I had flashbacks of walking the whole island of Manhattan because the subways were so scary for someone I know. My how times have changed. See you on the subway...

michelangelo said...

you rock my world. you need to come visit and teach me to be adventurous. i'm glad you loved it. i loved every minute of reading about it. good job.