Letting Go: Jumping Out of a Plane for Therapy – coming in hot with another crazy Kelli adventure!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had SKYDIVING on my bucket list and never made the opportunity to actually go and finally cross it off. Well, lately, I couldn’t think of a better time to jump out of a plane so I did just that. I’ve reached a point in my life where I need to say eff everything and start turning things around after what was undeniably a very shitty year. I’ve also reached a point where I’m not going to wait around for others to join me on an adventure. I have no problem experiencing things solo…obviously. Last month, I took myself to Mexico.
My reasoning behind doing this “exercise” was both physical and symbolic. I am an air sign, after all. First off, I don’t think you can experience a bigger rush. If you can, please tell me. Second, there’s no better way to “let go” of everything negative in your life than at 13,000 feet above it all, fingers in the air. I allowed my fears, heartache, and anger about the past, present, and future fly right out of my fingertips as I barrel-rolled out of a plane at 13,000 feet above the earth. The hardest part is letting go. After the intense journey back down, I landed right on my feet – just the way I plan to after a year of death-defying bullshit life threw in my direction.
Keep reading if you’re wondering what it was like for this first-time jumper. As brave as I am, I was still scared. It’s all fun and games until they yanked open that door to the plane! Ha!
I woke up last Thursday morning, confirmed my reservation, and put on my comfy leggings and hoodie and hopped in the car and drove from Hollywood to Lake Elsinore. I arrived before noon, checked in, signed all the forms for liability and COVID 19 safety, stepped on a scale, watched a video on skydiving, and then headed over to the drop zone to get harnessed for the jump. Still not nervous…yet.
Once I arrived to the drop zone to check in there, I was told I’d be flying in about 20 min, not in a few hours like I was expecting. They asked if I was with anyone and what was the occasion, if any. I said I was solo and it’s because after 10 years of a failed relationship and they all cheered and commended my bravery.
After I was all checked in, I met with my instructor/jump buddy and he gave me a brief rundown on how this all works and answered any questions I had. My only question and concern at the time was how to land without breaking your legs (haha). He started suiting me up and I’m like “Is it too late to say I have to pee?” hahaha…guess who did this with a semi-full bladder?!
Before I knew it, we were walking towards the plane, up the ramp, and into this tiny little jumper plane with small benches. We all sandwich inside – fellow tandem jumpers and solo jumpers. What I’m about to do is slowly kicking in. The engine starts, the smell of jet fuel fills the cabin…us tandem first-timers are all picking at our fingernails because we don’t know what else to do on the ride up into the sky. The instructors have all done this a thousand times, so they’re literally just sitting at their desks. My mind wandered as we took off. If something goes wrong, this is my last day on Earth…did I tell everyone things I wanted to, or are too many things left unsaid? Then a jumper next to me kept bringing me out of it by accidentally moving his foot on top of mine (because we were stuffed into the plane). The first time they flung the door open, out went some winged jumpers…one right after the other. I thought “that was fast” and turned around to look out the window to see how high we were and I’m like “This SO doesn’t look as scary as I thought!” And one of the instructors says “This is only 2,000ft….we have 20 more minutes to go!” ….fuck me. Soon after, my instructor had me sit on his lap to finish harnessing me in…shit is getting real.
What felt like 5 minutes was actually 20 and there we were, at 13,000 feet in the sky. I look out the window again and I’m like “Oh…”. Once they flung open that door again and all the freezing cold air instantly filled the cabin and all you can hear is WIND, I suddenly realized I’m not as badass as I thought I was. HA! One by one, like an assembly line, the other jumpers tuck n roll out of the plane. No time to waste, no time to spare. They don’t want you to second-guess your decision. There’s only one way off this plane! Oh Kelli, what have you done?! We were the first ones in, which means the last ones out. There we were, squatting down, at the edge of the plane. My brain “screen-grabbed” that moment and I’ll remember it forever. A very little part of me was like “I CANT DO THIS” and the rest of me was like “LET’S FUCKING GO!” We barrel-rolled right out of that plane, head-first, and were free-falling at speeds I had never felt in my life. Holy shit. I fucking did it. That rush was SO extremely intense, I think I blacked out for a second. My mouth was so dry from all that air! This must be what dogs experience when they stick their heads out of car windows. I just felt all the bad leaving my body, out of my fingertips, like a cleansing, if you will. I threw my middle fingers up and just laughed and relished this experience. I was so in the moment, I actually forgot he was recording this with a GoPro mounted to his glove. We free-fell for about 50 seconds, and then the instructor pulled the ‘chute and we began to float. I started sobbing and it turned into a heavy cry – but like, a good cry. Tears of joy, relief…whatever it was. It was emotional. I faced a fear while releasing other fears. I left all my negativity up there in the clouds.
Soon after the free-fall, I was getting really dizzy. As it turns out, the one thing I didn’t prepare for was my enemy, the sneaky bastard who lurks within my adventure spectrum: motion sickness. All those spins and turns…oof. I actually almost threw up during our landing. Since we were harnessed to one another, the instructor felt my body do a quick gag as I held it in, but was totally cool about it. “If you have to throw up, throw up in your shirt!” …this poor guy has had people barf on him and has even gotten it in his own mouth before! Yuck. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so bad about that. The view up there was insane. We saw Catalina Island, even through all the haze. Once he landed us on the ground – smoothly, might I add – I just laid there, on my back, crying and laughing at the same time, while also trying to equalize my vertigo. I did it! I skydived! …skydove?
Bucket list item – check! And yes, I do have an actual list of “shit to do” in life and literally got to cross off “Go skydiving” and it felt really damn good. Being single so far is pretty legit. I’m getting so much done. When you’re partnered up, it’s easy to become complacent and stagnant (especially if they aren’t as adventurous as you are) and don’t always do the things “we’ve always wanted to do” and the next thing you know, ten years have passed and you’re sitting there thinking “WTF”. I’m using this time to really invest in myself. I have a unique opportunity to really focus and invest in myself for the next few months and I plan to do just that.
So if you didn’t think I was crazy enough by now, I’m here to validate that with this statement: After this experience, I’ve decided to go back and do an accelerated freefall jump BY MYSELF (not tandem)! If there’s anything more intense than jumping out of a plane, it’s doing it by yourself. You have to complete hours and hours of ground training before you’re allowed to jump solo. And of course, that’s what I plan on doing. I’m kicking this up a notch! Why? Because I’m terrified at the idea and I’m all about tackling my fears, head-on.
If you’re interested in doing this as well, I did it at Skydive Elsinore and I jumped with Merve. He was awesome!
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