My friend Mitchell had been bringing it up to me for a while, but I just couldn't find time to book it. Eventually I realized I'd have to make time, or it would never happen. So I looked up a place called Coastal Skydive - where they take you to Semaphore Beach and let you come down on the sand next to the ocean. According to their website, they had two options - you could jump from 10 000 feet or 14 000 feet. That amused me. I wonder if there was anyone thinking "Are you kidding? 10 000 is okay, but jumping out of a plane from 14 000 feet is just dangerous!" Maybe it was to do with the cost? But I still couldn't see someone being willing to pay $500 but not $600.
I called up the company while I was sitting with my friends by the pool.
'Yes, I'd like to book a skydive at Semaphore for the 30th December? 14 000 feet?'
'Okay, is it just yourself?' said the girl on the phone.
'Nope, there's two of us.'
'Oh, okay. See, the 30th is a Tuesday. We only do mid-week jumps with bookings of at least four people.'
Oh shit. I leaned away from the phone and told Mitchell the news.
'Give me a few minutes,' he said. 'I'll take care of it.'
I told the girl I'd call her back and continued to enjoy the day. Sure enough, a few minutes later, Mitchell had rounded up his brother Tyler and his primary school friend Daniel.
'Okay, so your deposit's gone through and it's all booked in. I've sent you an email with all the instructions on the day and a link to the Australian Parachuting Society. You'll need to register there for insurance reasons.'
'Oh, it's just a precaution.'
'Right. I'm sure nothing can go wrong.'
'Well it can, but- no, never mind. We'll see you then!' *click!*
I mulled on that and then collected myself for a second.
'We're going skydiving!' I exclaimed proudly to the group. They shared their excitement and trepidation.
'Are you scared?' asked Sarah.
'Not yet, but I'm sure it will happen soon,' I replied. I decided to keep it a secret from everyone else. Such a big finale deserves an equally big reveal. I did however announce on Facebook that I had booked something, and that it was big. My Aunty Tina commented, saying
"This worries me. I don't know where the limit is with you." I cheekily replied with
"The sky, Zia T. The sky's the limit."
Fast forward to late November when myself, Jerida, Mitchell and Jasmine went to the Gold Class cinema. We were chatting in the carpark at the end of the night and the skydiving came up.
'Surely you're scared,' said Jerida.
'Not really. I have a huge amount of trust in these things. They wouldn't still be around if it weren't completely safe.'
'I wonder if you'll pass through a cloud,' said Jasmine. 'I wonder how that would feel.'
Suddenly, my eyes shot wide. 'Oh... We'll actually be looking down on top of the clouds...' It had hit me how scary this would be. The image of me standing in the open doorway of a tiny plane, feeling every bump and dip of the air and looking down on an infinite sea of white mist came vividly to my mind. And suddenly I was terrified.
'Well, catch you later guys!' said Mitchell.
Two days before Judgment Day, I was chatting to my parents about things I had to do before the end of the year.
'I need to get a haircut at some point,' I said. 'And I'd like to get it done before my skydive.'
'Your what??' said Mum and Dad together.
'Um... I should have said that.'
'That's your big final thing?' asked Mum incredulously.
'It's so much fun, you'll love it!' she said, recovering quickly. She went skydiving for her 30th birthday and she still has the VHS cassette as a souvenir.
'I sure hope so.'
'When were you going to tell us?' asked Dad.
'Well, um... after I wrote my blog about it.' I was getting more and more sheepish.
'That's stupid Michael, what if something went wrong and you got hurt? Did you think about that?'
'...Well I can assure you I am now.'
Finally, the day of reckoning. Mum dropped me off at Mitchell's house so we could carpool to Semaphore together. I collected my pile of release forms and headed inside, where Mitchell was getting ready. It was nine in the morning at this stage. We were due to arrive in Semaphore by 10:30. We were both nervous.
'I've been watching skydive videos online,' said Mitch. 'They all say that the ride up is just as scary as the fall. You're crammed into this tiny space, there's no room to move. And the plane doesn't feel stable as it climbs.'
'Good, I'm glad I know that now,' I replied sarcastically. Mitchell looked out the window.
'There's a fair bit of cloud and wind outside. Do you think that will be okay?'
'Yeah I'm sure it will be fine.'
'And it was raining all of this morning. Do you think that will hold off?'
'I... I think so.'
Just as we got in the car to head off, I get a phone call.
'Hi Michael, this is Alex from Coastal Skydive, how are you?'
'Good thanks,' I lied.
'Great. So I've got here that you're booked to arrive at 10:30. The weather's not looking good, we'll have to push it back to 1:30, is that okay with you guys?'
I checked with Mitchell, who nodded.
'Yep, we'll do that,' I said.
'That's great. At least then we'll have a 50/50 chance of being able to go.'
50/50? I didn't like those odds. We sighed and got out of the car while Mitchell called Tyler and Daniel and told them the news. Daniel headed over to us so we could hang out for the next three hours. Tyler was practically already at Semaphore, so he decided to wait there.
Those next three hours were hard. I realized that the one thing scarier to me at that moment than jumping out of a plane was the possibility of not jumping out of a plane. We distracted ourselves with a bit of Minecraft on Mitchell's XBox. But after we killed the dragon, we were once again forced to face our fears. at 12 o'clock, Alex called back.
'Hi Michael, it's Alex again. Listen, I'm making the call. It's too cloudy and the chance of rain is still too high. Is tomorrow good for you guys?'
Tomorrow was good for me. I'm on holidays from work at the moment. Mitchell luckily had a day off as well. Tyler could apparently make it work on any day. But Daniel said he couldn't afford to try and get out of work two days in a row. We hung up, worked out when we could all do it, and called him back.
'We'd like to book it in for Sunday 11th January,' I said. It would two days after my birthday.'
'Okay, that's locked in. Thanks for your understanding and I'll see you then!' *click!*
My excitement and nerves had been replaced by crushing disappointment. My story had been ruined. Right at the last possible moment, my challenge had had the rug pulled out from under it. I was on a football field against the universe, and the universe had just thrown a hail mary into the end zone to win the game. I could barely even be bothered trying to find a new thing to replace it at such short notice. I eventually collected myself enough to figure out what to do. I borrowed Mitchell's copy of Skyrim to take it home and play it for the rest of the day. It's one of the highest-selling games ever and is talked about a lot. But I've never played it, and don't even know what it's about. So I figured that playing that until midnight would at least satisfy the criteria for the challenge. But while I've officially done 52 new things this year, my challenge still isn't over. Only when the 11th of January comes around, and I've successfully jumped out of that plane and landed on that golden sand under that bright mid-summer sun... Only then will I have truly completed the New Experience Challenge.
|P.S. - The sky cleared up and the rest of the day was quite lovely. But I was too busy stuck inside playing Skyrim to enjoy it.|