Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The First Time: Adrenaline

D and I got married in Queenstown, New Zealand - the "Adventure Capital of the World."  D was determined to take on the bungee jump there at Nevis canyon.  This is no ordinary bungee jump - you throw yourself off a gondola suspended on cables 440 ft above the bottom of the canyon.  8 seconds of free fall.  Count that up: 1-one thousand, 2-one thousand.... that is like, forever, in free fall moments.

I am decidedly NOT an adrenaline junkie.  The rush that some people get when that natural chemical starts coursing through their blood just leaves me wishing to curl up safely under my blankie with a nice cup of chamomile tea to calm my racing heart.  So, despite all the recent til-death-do-us-part-yada-yada, I had no desire to join D in this particular leap of faith.  However, everyone on the gondola - even spectators - gets kitted out in a jump harness.  So we both got strapped into the gear and headed out to the jump platform.

There was a group of about 10 on this mission.  I was the only chicken that was not jumping.  The group is set to go in order by descending weight for technical reasons.  My newly minted husband's turn came up, and on the count of "3-2-1-bungee" he executed a perfect swan dive.  They hauled him back up to the platform sporting a grin so big it could split his head in half.  His first words were, "Can I go again?" which he summarily did.  I wasn't surprised that he enjoyed it so much - he who loves throwing himself down steep hills on a mountain bike in maneuvers that I find terrifying.

After a while a giggling gaggle of youngish girls rotated through the jump order - and every single one of them leapt on the cue of "3-2-1-bungee!"  No hysterics, no crying or shaking or hesitating or being talked into it.  At this point I was starting to feel a little stupid.  If even one person had freaked out about their jump, I would have stood aside and sagely said, "You see - that's why I'm not doing it.  Why put yourself through the trauma?"  But, as luck would have it, I'm small enough to jump on the lightest weight cord, so I was given the final option to jump before we all returned to solid ground.  I thought if they can do it, I can do it.  Man up - here I go.

You jump at Nevis head-first with your feet strapped together.  As I sat fidgeting in a reclining chair, getting strapped in, I was silently repeating this mantra: no thinking... no thinking... if you think, you don't jump...

I penguin-scooted to the edge of the platform, and put the tips of my boots out over the end.  I remember clearly that I never once looked down.  I even crossed my eyes a little when I checked my toes to ensure I wouldn't accidentally focus on the HUGE EFFING CHASM that I was about to throw myself into.

The mantra continued: no thinking... 3-2-1-bungee and you go... if you don't go the first time, you'll never do it.  Then they counted it out - and I pushed off the platform.  Weightless, free falling, yelling my head off because as long as I was screaming, I was conscious, I was alive.  After about forever, I felt the bungee slow my descent - stretch tighter and tighter and then all the blood rushed to my head before I shot upwards again.  I don't really remember much as they hauled me back up to the gondola - but it was an intense rush, and the photographic evidence shows that I had the same grin on my face that D did.  I freaking did it!

For the rest of the day, I was completely loopy, totally high on adrenaline for the first time.  I've never felt that since; nor will I in the future because, although I'm proud that I conquered the Nevis bungee jump, I am still an adrenaline-averse chicken, and I am NEVER doing that again.


  1. I have always wanted to do that! And I've always wondered if I could actually go through with it once I was face to face with that drop. My heart was in my throat the whole way through this!

  2. That made me dizzy! You have some balls!

  3. I've got to give you a vote just because you did it. I would have been hiding in the corner of the gondola.

  4. There are many experiences in life where once is enough. It's just fun to be able to say, "Hey, I did that!"
    Congrats on being so brave.

  5. Reminds me a little of the first time I did a parachute jump. It was something I had wanted to do for as long as I could remember, and fortunately I had no fear.

    I do recall though, at the moment I was instructed to climb out of the door of a perfectly healthy aircraft and stand outside, several thousand feet in the air, waiting for the tap on my shoulder to tell me it was time to let go....

    Thinking to myself....

    "This is not the action of a sane or rational human being"....

    It was the ultimate rush though, and I went back several more times to do it again....

    Thank you for sharing


  6. Great job, daughter, you have more guts than I do - and great writing too.