Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Way Back Wednesday: Adrenaline

Thanks to encouragement from Educlaytion and Ironic Mom, there have been few new faces around here recently.  I thought it might be an idea to dig up some old posts that really never got much exposure when I first started writing.  This is the very first post that I wrote here, published back in November 2009, recounting the story of a leap of faith taken just days after our 2003 wedding.

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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 giggling and 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.

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So tell me, what's the scariest thing you've ever done?


  1. I've been there! I stayed in a B and B run by Norman Bates. I didn't pay to have a spine yanked, partially because I walked around NZ with my head at a 45 degree angle to my neck, thanks to a teacher-student volleyball game where I insisted on being the only goof wearing a Santa hat.

    Scariest thing I ever did? Maybe leaving Canada as a single woman to teach in Bahrain. But you know what? I don't think that was as scary as going to camp by myself in Grade 4. I was a momma's girl. I wept.

    Thanks for the link love,

  2. Yah know, I totally take my hat off to you girl. I would never do it. I hate that heart pounding shaking like shit feeling, I dont enjoy it at all. When I went to Rotorua with some GF's for a weekend last year we went and did some adventure stuff. I was happy enough to be suspended over a huge turbine engine riding the updraft 40 ft in the air but there was no freakin way I was going to do the Swoop...haul 120 metres up strapped inside a sleeping bag thing and attached to a single rope and then let go to swing back and forth...uh uh no way I loath that free-fall feeling intensly. I took the photos instead. Chickenshit me , big time.

  3. Ironic Mom - I knew you'd lived in Bahrain, but I didn't know you went there on your own. You are brave! I remember going to camp when I was young too, but I wasn't much of a momma's girl and couldn't wait to get there. It must be have been quite hard on you if you are weighing it against a leap into living abroad!

    Go-Betty - I have seen the sleeping bag thingy and, even though I conquered Nevis, I have no desire to do that at all. The Bungee jump is a relatively short lived experience compared to that.

  4. That looks and sounds very, very terrible. Congrats to you!

  5. Wow! I am so impressed. I don't know if I could do that. And you look great!

  6. Third time is the charm! This time I copied and pasted, though! I'm smart that way...Here's what I wrote:

    Okay, here we go again. Somehow Blogger doesn't like me and keeps losing my posts. Silly Blogger!

    ANYway, you are a brave brave girl. I couldn't do that. Part of me wishes I could, but I know I would chicken out. I understand the 'high' but I just can't get past the panicky fear that leads to the high! It's not even about heights, per se. I'd go rock climbing, for example (with ropes!) - I need most of me touching solid ground, I think is what it comes down to.

    Scariest thing I've done? Well, since I mentioned climbing, I'll confess that I climbed the O-Dome in college, back when it was still an air dome (That's the O'Connell Center at the U.Florida:'Connell_Center)

    But only one thing ever gave me panic attacks like I'd never known before nor since. Like Ironic Mom, I moved abroad on my own to teach. I moved to Istanbul to take a position at a private high school. Those first few weeks were...intense.

  7. Lemon Gloria & Nicki - Thanks, both of you!

    Limr - I'm sorry Blogger kept eating your comments. I'm looking into a WP conversion. Thanks for your diligence!

    I have done indoor climbing with ropes and loved it. Though I was 30 feet off the ground I felt very secure. I've often wondered how scary it would be if I was clipped in to anchor points on a real rock face though.

    I think teaching, in general, is a very brave thing to do. Standing up in front of a group of children who may or may not want to learn? Nerve-wracking. Moving on your own to a foreign land to do it? Terrifying. Way to go, you!

  8. Incredible!

    I like to think I'm this daring, bold, adventurous spirit because I do (did) a lot of harness climbing & rappelling (it happens when you live in Tennessee!), but I couldn't even do a flip on those bungee jump trampoline gizmos. I just bounced up and down and wondered when my turn would be over while the kid next to me went and Nadia Comaneci'd all over the place.

    I would have sat next to you and pitied those who felt like they had to prove something by jumping. We would have been the wise ones.

  9. Hi Jess - thanks for stopping by. I've only done any harness climbing, once, at an indoor gym, but I loved it and really should try it again. Like you though, I don't place that anywhere near the fear factor of the bungee jump. It's ironic though, because I bet the safety factor on the bungee jump far outweighs rock climbing, what with the potential of anchor points failing and what not.