LESAGE, W.Va. -- I've never trusted a person more than when I was strapped to my skydiving instructor's chest, as he launched our bodies out of a tiny plane at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
He gave me a "3-2-1" count by rocking our bodies forward, legs dangling over the edge of the plane, and in that moment I had to dismiss all of my creeping fears and recite in my mind everything I had just been taught to do before, during and after the fall.
Still, I couldn't stop thinking, "How in the world did I end up here? How the heck did I get myself into this situation?"
Despite having a knack for adventure, skydiving was never on my bucket list. It was an adrenaline rush I was OK about never experiencing, figuring there are endless other ways to have much safer and paralleled excitement.
For one reason or another, though, this was the summer I caved. I started thinking about experiencing what everyone else has always raved about. Next thing I knew, I was on the phone with West Virginia Skydivers, scheduling an appointment for a tandem jump.
To be honest, I called to just get information about their skydiving business and to feel it out before I made a commitment. As I listened to the skydiver instructor explain all the different types of jumps they offer (while also answering all of my skeptical questions about safety), I decided on the spot that I was going to follow through with this.
I realized on the phone that for them this was more than just a fleeting adrenaline rush. This is their profession and they are willing to prove to anyone who dared, that if you're going to trust anyone with your life, they wanted to be the ones to step up to the plate.
I was very grateful for that professionalism as my instructor rocked my body forward on that third count, and I felt our bodies fall out of the plane. Suddenly I was freefalling from 10,000 feet and despite reciting everything I had been taught before I jumped, for the first few seconds of the freefall my mind went blank and I couldn't process any instructions.
I was falling so hard and so fast that all I could do was try to breathe, in and out, fighting the force of the wind on my face. Finally, reality kicked in, and I felt my instructor's hand nudging my shoulder, telling me to shift from the jumping position into the falling position -- an upside-down backbend, with your stomach parallel to earth.
Shortly after that, my instructor pulled our parachute and it was a slightly jolty transition from the freefall to the gliding. In one second I went from experiencing the most exciting rush of an adventure, to immediately finding myself in a moment of undisturbed placidity.