Okay, I had to hand it to Ella. Not just for arranging this different but setting it up in a way that made it better— worse— at once. Our day started with a long drive and a jarring shock. As she pulled into the parking lot of the Niagara Skydive Centre my head exploded like the gravel under the tires. This had to be a joke. Skydiving? Why did she think I would even consider this? Really? Absolutely no way. Not in a million years.
I turned to look at her and she had this big goofy grin off her face and started laughing hysterically. Then she explained. How was I supposed to known this was a total set up? Her uncontrollable laughter was so annoying, but at that point, with my whole body shaking like a leaf, I had to admit it was also a relief. Phew! My best friend didn’t really want to give me a heart attack and throw me out of a plane. We drove off toward the real different but she still wouldn’t tell me what it was.
We drove another twenty minutes and then pulled into the Indoor Skydiving Centre in Niagara Falls— real different. She had done this on purpose to make the different less scary— it worked. I was nervous but not terrified.
We went inside. There was somebody flying. She was wearing a helmet and this incredibly ugly orange safety. What kind of fashion statement was that? It looked like some type of retro jumpsuit from the ‘80s. OMG. And then when I finally got one on, well, the smell. Who had been wearing that thing?
I’d like to tell you that I bravely stepped straight into the wind tunnel, but I was still nervous, bundled into the smelly safety suit. I could do this. Could I do this? Could I?!
Yes. Yes, I could.
The instructor called it free-fall but the fall was really only three feet up. What if I fell? The worst I could have done was sprain an ankle, or bruise my pride, which was way less damage than free-falling out of a plane at ten thousand feet!
I stood on the pad. I heard the click of the air stream coming on. My mouth went dry, cold air started to flow beneath me, and I felt a surge of adrenaline course through my body. I leaned forward. My hair was instantly blown back and the skin of my face started flapping in the wind. Not a nice image. For anyone.
I remember thinking to myself “Come on, Sophie. Lean forward, lean forward.” I moved forward and as I did, I felt myself being thrown sideways. I landed hard on my butt. Darn it. I shut my eyes and psyched myself up, “Get up, Soph… on. Get up. You’ve got this.”
I took a deep breath and leaned into the wind again. With a little help from the instructor to keep my balance, my feet eventually lifted off the ground and I was flying. I was flying! I was doing this! I WAS FLYING!!!!