When I was little, my mom asked me the old cliché, “If all of your friends jumped off of a bridge would you do it too?” Now that I am older, apparently I am the bad influence encouraging other kids to jump. A few days ago I texted my friend Cody out of the blue and asked him if he’d make the 3-hour drive with me to jump off of a 125-year-old bridge in Kentucky. Luckily he is as crazy as I am and agreed.
The day before we left, Cody realized our destination was in Eastern Time. I’ve lived in Nashville on and off for over 13 years and I am still not used to being in Central Time. We left Nashville around 5:30 a.m. I am not a morning person. Yet, my excitement for the day was a good replacement for my morning coffee (although I had some of that too).
The idea of bungee jumping did not scare me. I’ve gone skydiving, hang gliding, and flown a plane, so jumping off of a bridge felt like the next logical step. Fearing nothing, and being a bit full of myself, I signed up for a triple jump package that included a “head dip” into the water. Once I saw the murkiness of the river, I asked if I could just touch the water with my hands (called a “hand slap”) on my third jump instead. (The water is usually quite clear, but recent heavy rains flooded the river).
The number of bungee cords used depends on the weight of the jumper. Because I am rather small, they had to switch the cords out for me and I was the last person to go for the day. But, the weather was lovely and watching others jump made the time go by quickly.
When it was time for my first jump, I did not hesitate. I was excited and ready to go.
As I stepped off of the platform I wondered if this was what Wile E. Coyote felt like when he realized the ground was no longer beneath him.
Suddenly I was flying through the air.
I had no way to tell which way was up.
It was hard to know when I was falling and when I was flying back up to the sky. The one thing I did know was that I absolutely loved it.
Once I finally stopped bounding through the air, I hung by my feet spinning like a top above the river. It was like a little bonus ride.
You are probably wondering how we get back up to the bridge. No, they do not drag you up by your feet. They send down a rope which you attach to your harness and you are hoisted up head first. It is actually a rather nice ride to the top. I could have hung out there all day.
Here is a video of the big jump:
Here is the same jump from my perspective:
Once I returned to the top, it was immediately time for jump number two. Despite loving it the first time, when I stepped toward the edge I was suddenly filled with terror. I just could not make myself do it again. I could not figure out why I could jump so easily the first time but be so certain that I could not do it a second time.
I had to sit down and collect myself. I used that as an opportunity to review the tape, so to speak, and convince myself that it was safe to go again. I refused to let the fear win. About 20 minutes later I was ready to step back out on the ledge. Alan from Vertigo Bungee, who I am convinced needs to be my personal life coach, soothed my nerves and got me back out on the ledge. I took a few deep breaths and jumped again.
This jump felt a bit more erratic than the first. I flew back up hitting the cords above me. The second jump did not fill me with the positive emotions that came with the first jump.
Once I made it back up to the bridge, I felt completely disoriented. I had to sit down for a while as my head and stomach spun. I was utterly unable to move for what seemed like an eternity. I have never been prone to motion sickness so this was a new experience for me. However, I suppose if you spin around upside down long enough you are bound to feel sick.
I finally collected myself and Cody helped escort me back to the car. As we neared the end of the bridge I turned around to give it one last look. This was a horrible mistake. The simple act of turning my head was more than my tiny body could take. I made it to the edge of the bridge just in time to puke my guts out. Just writing about it now, I have to reach for the dramamine we picked up on the way home.
I still have one jump left in my package that I can use this season. I have not yet decided if I want to use it. At first, I thought that two jumps were more than enough for me, but in just 36 hours my opinion on that has softened.
While my jumps were not my first steps down my path to adventure and personal growth, they were important steps. I was able to cross one more thing off of my list that intimidated me. I strongly believe that all fears in our lives must be overcome. Whether it is heights, death, or getting your heart broken, we end up much happier when we learn to embrace both the journey and the fall.