Somtimes I feel as though I am so defined by my role as a mom that I forget my pre-mom days. This is one adventure I’ll never forget, however…
I remember watching a show about people safely flinging themselves off bridges when I was in grade school. The idea sounded appealing to me then. But, of course, I was in Texas and the sport was only in New Zealand. The idea of me actually doing it was so remote that it was safe to be excited about it.
Fast forward 16 years…
I am in New Zealand at Kawarau Bridge, that very place I saw on television, watching people take the 142-foot plunge at the world’s first commercial bungee-jumping location. They are regular people you might meet anywhere in the world… except they are now becoming bungee jumpers. Except one girl. She stands on the edge, looks down and changes her mind. She had the opportunity to do it, but couldn’t. A few moments later I see her surrounded by friends consoling her. Tears are flowing and I know she will always regret not taking that chance.
I didn’t want to be that girl and have one ounce of regret. I wanted to reach in, take what life was offering and relish every moment.
“I want to do it,” I said to my husband. “I want to jump.”
We went to go sign up, but they told me they were booked. I would have to come back the next day. I knew I had to do it then.
“Isn’t there any way I could do it now?” I asked. The girls radioed the jump coaches on the bridge. They would take one more.
I signed about four releases and filled out what they called a toe tag without reading a word. I didn’t want anything to hold me back. They weighed me, wrote my weight in bright red marker in my hand and sent me up to the bridge.
My fear of heights somehow left me. I felt bold. I could do it. I would do it. I would live that (ever brief) childhood dream and jump off that very bridge I was so impressed by on television in grade school. Then they began to rig me up.
“This is it?” I asked. “Isn’t the strap a little too loose? Will it pull my shoe off?”
“No. It’s good. And it won’t slip down your leg to your shoe.” my jump coach told me.
“Are you sure?” I said as I stood and inched toward the platform. “You’ll be great,” he said in his New Zealand accent, which I liked at first, but wasn’t sounding so cute anymore. I was trusting this man, this boy, with my life. I reminded myself that he had done this too many times to count and that I would be safe. I followed his instruction and slid each foot forward and closer to the edge. Then I did what they tell you not to do. I looked down. Everything in my body screamed “LEAN BACK! DON’T LET GO! HOLD ON TIGHT!” But I knew I had to do it. I had to fly.
“Promise you won’t push me,” I said.
“I won’t push you. You can do it.” He said.
My husband encouraged from behind me. (He bungee jumped near Victoria Falls in Africa two summers prior. I had asked him not to do it on this trip because I couldn’t take watching it. And here I was, the crazy one this time.)
Time was crawling. I couldn’t do it. But I didn’t want to be that girl that walked away from the challenge. When would I have this opportunity again? I had to do it.
My knees were shaking. My mouth was dry. My fear of heights was gripping me. I could not let it win.
Finally, without thinking, I did it.
I jumped off that bridge and plummeted towards the river, soaring through the air at a speed I had never experienced, free-falling and screaming in delight. The hard part was over. The fear was gone. I was flying! Boulders seemed to sail by me and finally I noticed that I was climbing back up, floating in air. The ride was much smoother than I had anticipated. I was filled with an exhilaration I had never experienced. I had conquered a fear… and felt what it was like to fly (almost literally and figuratively).
I began to giggle as a raft drifted over to retrieve me. I grabbed onto a long stick and was lowered onto the raft. There my ankles were released… and then they began to really shake. I still couldn’t believe what I had done. I climbed the trail up the side of the river and joined my husband and the others in my group. And I felt like a conqueror. I was a conqueror.
And that was just the beginning of my New Zealand adventure… I was still signed up for a glacier heli-hike, hang-gliding, white and black-water rafting and a jetboat ride through a narrow stream. (Unfortunately the hang-gliding trip was cancelled due to winds. But the rest was still breathtaking.)
Have you ever bungee jumped? What are some of your more daring adventures… that you’ve done or that you dream about?Filed under New Zealand, Trips without the kids | Comments (14)