Friday, July 10, 2015

Stability with Smiles

When you buy your first house, there's obviously a great level of responsibility that comes along w/ it.  One of the more obvious ones being maintenance - both inside and around the property.

I am not handy and I despise yard work.  Jill, on the other hand, could handle a drill and wasn't opposed to mowing the lawn.

Thank God.

In order to tend to the house, certain materials and equipment were required to be my wife informed me w/in the first week of us living inside our vacant house in Houston.  I'm fairly certain I fought her on every purchase...w/ no real leg to stand on...

"Do we really need an automatic lawn mower?  The yard's not that big."

"A hedge trimmer - really?  Can't we just twist off the few branches that stick out?"  (I'm an idiot.)

"No way.  I'm not getting a ladder.  I'm not getting a ladder b/c I'm not getting up on a ladder."

I've positioned the ladder on our slanted driveway as best I can to ensure maximum stability.  I'm climbing up toward the top, heart racing faster as each foot takes another step.  As I reach the top, I have to will myself to take that final (final?) step atop the roof.  (Apparently the gutters need cleaning.)

Well, I got up there.  And I flipped my shit.

Jill had been down below on the driveway throughout this ordeal, my one-woman-pregnant-cheerleader.  "Hey, you did it!  You're up there!"

(Is this where I inject the fact that we lived in a single-story ranch?)

"Yeah, I need to get down.  I need to get down now."

Jill could hear me cracking.  And really, externally, that was nothing.  Inside is where I was losing it.

Jilly talked me down.  I survived.

To this day, I am genuinely amazed and thoroughly impressed by anyone that can walk a roof.

So, why then would I ever consider voluntarily paying to jump out of a plane?

I've thought about that question.  And I think it has to do w/ stability...or the lack of it in certain situations.  A ladder, a tightrope, a balance beam - I never feel steady or secure in these situations.  (The truth is that I've never been on a tightrope.  I just wanted to use three examples.)

But, for some reason, the idea of stability didn't factor into my skydiving equation.

You jump.  You drop.  You parachute to safety...hopefully.

Jill gave me this generous gift before Rory was even an idea.  And as part of the package, Jill had signed herself up to go w/ me.  "I know you may not go thru w/ it if it's just you.  So, I'm making sure you do by doing it w/ you."


These were tandem jumps.  If unfamiliar, essentially that means you have a dude strapped to your back throughout the entire experience to ensure your form, timing, etc. are accurate.

I'm not a big fan of dudes on my back; but I went along w/ the process.

After not-so-extensive 'training,' we head toward the plane that looks like a prop from Indiana Jones.  The cabin is gutted, nothing left but a bench row on either side.  As we file in, Jilly and I get disconnected.  She's closer to the front, me toward the back.

As we begin to tumble down the runway dirt path, I remember leaning back to the guy strapped to me, "Does someone need to shut the door?"

"Nah, man, we're all going out that way anyway."

Shit.  He's right.

As the wheels lifted off the earth, the trained jumpers began to chant in unison, "Na-na-naaaaa-na, na-na-naaaaa-na, hey hey hey, gooooooodbyyyyyyye..."

At the time, I thought it was some sick ritual they voiced before each jump.  In fact, as I learned when safely back on the ground post jump, they were poking fun at the first time pilot.

As we're climbing, so too are my nerves.  The air in the cabin is cold, near frigid.  Shut the freaking door.

I look down the row to Jill for eye contact and comfort.  And I see her, happy-go-lucky, chatting it up w/ the people around her as if we're all on a private jet heading to a tropical island vacation.  The cabin appears brighter where she sits.  (The world was always brighter where she was...when she was.)  She appears as if she hasn't a care in the world.  She's content and right where she needs to be.

This was Jill.

I caught her eye.  She smiled her signature smile at me, lit up the cabin, and lit up my insides.

I could go on and discuss the unique rush you feel when free-falling back to earth.  But, that rush is nothing compared to that moment in the cabin.  And thankfully, it wasn't just that single moment.  Jill and I shared many moments like that smile exchange at 15,000 feet.

It's just that most of them were on the ground...though they often made me feel like I was flying.

All love,

J, J, & r

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