Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Worn Green T-Shirt

I was cleaning out the attic today and a job that was supposed to take 2-3 hours took...well, actually it's not close to being done yet, thanks to my A.D.D. I'd open a box, lift out a photo album, open it, and 45 minutes would elapse.  Case in point, look what I found in a "book" published by Kimmy's 1st grade class.

Midway through the day I was sorting through a box of old clothes and pulled out a worn green t-shirt with three short words written on the front. Three very important words. Three very true words. Three words that made me very, very happy.

My Chute Opened.

As I held up the t-shirt the memories came flooding back:  the day 3 of my friends bullied me into going sky diving with them. 

It had sounded like a great idea at happy hour the night before, but when they pulled up to my apartment that Saturday morning I'd more than come to my senses.

"Sorry, can't make it. I just remembered have to study..for that big Math Stat test!"

They completely saw through my lame excuses (especially considering we were on summer break) .  They dragged me to their car for our road trip to the Fostoria, Ohio sky diving school where we spent about 3 hours preparing ourselves for our impending deaths.

We were to jump solo, and pull our own rip cords.  But just in case we were too stunned to pull the cord, the parachutes were triggered to open at a certain point - hopefully before we hit the ground. We learned how to pull the toggles on the parachute so we could change directions during our fall, and avoid any obstacles between us and the ground.  We also learned how to land without injury.

But what surprised (and scared) me the most was that we weren't going to simply jump out of the plane. We were instead going to lean out, grab a hold of a wing bar (see photo), and hang on until the jump instructor told us to let go. (Apparently this methodology minimizes the chances for flipping and any subsequent nasty leg/string entanglements.)

The 4 of us boarded the small plane with our jump instructor. We were to take the plunge in order of weight (from high to low). I was shaking in my jump suit. 

Tim was the first to go. I leaned over to the jump instructor after Tim's jump and shouted, "Did his chute open?"    He nodded.

Next came Ron. Again..."Did his chute open?"   Then it was Janet. "Did her chute open?"

The flight instructor looked at me and pointed to the door. "Your turn".  

I seriously thought about not going.  But I knew my friends would never let me live it down if I didn't take the jump. I made a quick sign of the cross and moved to the door.

I sat with my legs hanging out of the plane and reached out for the T-bar. I slid my butt off the edge of the doorway and dangled my shaking body from the bar.

The flight instructor yelled, "OK, let go!"

I shouted, "No"

He repeated, "Let go!"

I screamed, "I don't want to."

He got out his hammer and pounded my fists.  

Not really.   But somehow I let go.

I don't remember much after that. I recall how quiet it was as the plane flew away. And I started to cry. I completely forgot to pull the rip cord, but thankfully, it went off at the right time. I gently made my way to the ground and I landed as  instructed, with no bodily harm. I kissed the ground.

The four of us went back to Bowling Green feeling quite brave.  We headed straight to a t-shirt place to have our green "My Chute Opened" t-shirts made. And we wore them to happy hour. We were so proud.

That's the way I felt today when I wore my "My Chute Opened" t-shirt to Food Lion.  It may have been my imagination, but I believe the other shoppers were looking at me in admiration.  

Either that or they thought I was homeless.

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