I should start off by clarifying that skydiving was never a career for me (sigh), but it was a passion of mine for a few years of my life. Being an adventure seeker for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to skydive. I looked into it and quickly learned that I had to be 18 years old to do it. I vowed to myself that on my 18th birthday I’m going skydiving and moving out of my parents house (I was a very independent child).* Well, 18 came and went and I didn’t go skydiving or move out of my parents house.
The big day came and I couldn’t have been more excited. I don’t even remember being nervous. It was a tandem jump after all, and I completely trusted the
stranger experienced skydiver strapped to my back. The instructions took a whole of 5 minutes, when we jumped into the helicopter and up we went. Not only was it amazing that I was going to get to skydive from 13,000 feet but I got to see the beauty of Interlaken from the air. With a disposable camera in one hand (yes, this was before digital photography people), and my body strapped around the professional, it was our turn to jump. With my feet dangling off the helicopter, we counted to three and next thing I know we were free-falling. I can’t even describe this feeling to you other than saying it was the best 45 seconds of my life. I had a perma-smile on my face; half of it due to how happy I was and half of it due to the wind blowing in my face; after all, we were dropping towards the earth at 200 Km/h (120M/h). Then I received a tap on my arm indicating that he’s going to pull the parachute. I crossed my arms across my chest, and back-up we went! The next 5+ minutes is the part where you get to “sit-back” and enjoy the view as you’re gliding down. This is also when I was allowed to take pictures. The landing was smooth as I landed on my bum (per their instructions) and the first thought that went through my head was “I can’t wait to do this again”. I couldn’t afford to do it in Europe, but I was going to look into doing it once I got home.
Of course, life got in the way when I got home, and I didn’t get to go skydiving again until I was in Israel a year later. Being born and growing up in Israel, there was nothing more appealing to me then skydiving there. I grabbed my best-friend H, and off we went (http://www.paradive.co.il/english.shtml). The skydiving center was along the Mediterranean cost in Tel-Aviv. The view was breathtaking and the jump just as spectacular as I remember it being the first time around. I was so happy to share my love for skydiving with my best-friend. We spent the rest of the afternoon reminiscing about our experience on the beaches of Tel-Aviv.
When I came back home that summer, I was determined to keep the promise I made to myself, and FINALLY signed myself up for classes at a local (albeit a one + hour drive) skydiving spot just outside the city (http://www.skydivetoronto.com/). I signed up for the solo certified skydiving program which would enable me to skydive on my own anywhere in Ontario. There’s apparently several levels to become internationally certified, but I figured, one step at a time.
I had a full-day of on the ground training and then I just had to wait for my turn.
I’m not going to lie, but stepping out on the wings of the plane by myself, with no expert attached to me, made me really nervous. I thought I wasn’t afraid of heights, but that was SCARY!! However, there was no turning back at this point. At 4,000 feet, I counted to 3 and I jumped off, pulled the static line, arching and moving like I was taught while I had a few milliseconds of free-fall until the parachute fully opened. I enjoyed gliding down and controlling my parachute and finding my landing spot. Landing was my favourite part, and I always took pride in how “well” I landed (i.e. I didn’t injure myself).
I signed up for this course on my own, as I didn’t find any willing jumpers to join me. I spent my off-weekends, over a period of two summers, driving up and waiting several hours until the weather conditions were just right (wind had to be at approximately fifteen mile per hour or less). Since the site was located in Toronto it was hard to find a good-day and time to jump. During each visit, I was usually able to conduct one solo-jump. This made it very difficult for me to progress along. I also only had spectators come to watch me twice. Once it was my parents, and once it was my husband John (my boyfriend at the time). I had a lot of support from afar, but John was not very enthusiastic about my new hobby. Just like his mom, he worried a lot. I was surprised that he even came to watch me. It was also getting to be fall, which would mean I would have to wait yet another year before I can progress. And so, after 7 solo-jumps, I decided to end my skydiving career right there and then.It was a hard decision, but I know it was the right one. I learned a lot about myself, skydiving, and about reading the directions of winds (which I love to tell my husband every time we see a windsock pole). I loved just “sailing-in-the wind” and thinking about the beauty that’s below me. There’s so many memories that I will forever treasure about taking the course. You can watch a quick video, shot from the ground, of me jumping out of the plane here: http://youtu.be/cFZbklOgNEA
However… that didn’t mean that I wouldn’t tandem skydive again.
My last skydiving experience occurred while my husband (then boyfriend) and I were traveling in New Zealand. New Zealand is known as the adventure capital of the world. And so, it seemed fitting that we would do something adventuress there. The topic of skydiving came up a lot, but my husband mostly brushed it aside. I didn’t want to push (I’m not the type), so it wasn’t discussed much of our trip. Also, my husband self-proclaimed that he’s afraid of heights (really I know, it’s just what his mom told him) which I know is not true (he jumps from a 40 foot rock on our lake into the water; I can’t even do that). Anyways, I digress…we were on the way to the airport to catch our flight home, when we realized that we had about two hours to kill. I looked at my guide-book to see what was on the way to the airport, just to get in one last New Zealand adventure under our belt. I subtly mentioned that there’s a skydiving center along the route (http://www.skydiveauckland.com/), and my husband, to my surprise, agreed that we should go. This was a big deal people!!! I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out from his mouth, so I asked repeatedly if he’s sure. Once I believed him, I was all giddy! I couldn’t wait for him to experience something that brought so much joy into my life. I even made sure we had pictures taken of him to capture what will probably be the first and last time he skydives. To say the least, the experience was amazing for both of us (see picture below). I’m pretty sure I remember John using the word “love” to describe it. We made it to the airport with no time to spare. We parked our rental car in the paid parking lot and called the rental company to tell them that they had to come and pick it up and that the keys were in the glove box. We also mentioned, in passing, that the windshield was cracked and one of the tires were flat… but there was nothing we could as we had a flight to catch! They weren’t happy about all of this, but we didn’t care. We were still high from the thrill we just experienced. It’s a memory that I will cherish forever!
*My full plan was to live in an apartment on top of a convenience store with my best friend….. now that’s the stuff dreams are made of!
In case anyone is wondering what this post has to do with motherhood, please check out my updated “About” page: http://mayahoodblog.com/about/