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Until then, I had only seen this kind of gear in a bondage shop…

It’s me again – the girl who hates Barbies.

I have been very fortunate in my life to live out dreams that are oftentimes not available to your Average Joe.  I have had the wonderful luck to be at the right place at the right time and to have a number of opportunities just fall in my lap.  Such was the case May 2011 when I overheard a conversation between two girls in our office who were discussing their opportunity to do a Tandem (for free) with a new set of local skydivers.  You see, I work for Adventures on the Gorge, an adventure resort located on the New River in West Virginia.  We cater to the adventure-enthusiast (primarily whitewater rafting, climbing, kayaking, zip lines, aerial adventures, etc).  WV Skydivers was testing a new demographic, the New River Gorge area –a location that will sound familiar because it is where the 876ft tall bridge is located that BASE jumpers flock to the third weekend in every October.  They had purchased a local hanger to see if there was a market for the sport.  They offered free Tandems to our reservationists with the understanding that it is easier to sell something that you have experienced first hand.  Now, I know I work in payroll but I do have occasion to see a number of guests.  So, I figured I qualified for the free experience AND it was on my Lifetime List of things to do.

Let me warn you, I am generally foul, offensive and (on good days) quite the dirty girl.  So, when I made my way to the hanger and Mr. All-American Handsome Garrido was my Tandem master, my friend Kim said, “Poor guy, doesn’t know what’s about to hit him.”  For the next two hours John Garrido was put through the rigors of getting to know me.  As he strapped me into my rig, I told him how I had similar restraints hanging from my bedroom ceiling.  As he pulled my clasps tight, I told him it was ok to be rough and to pull that shit as tight as he needed to.  As he explained that as we approached altitude he would ask me to get to my knees in front of him so he could strap himself to me… well, I will leave it to your imagination as to what I may have told him at that point.  After all, this was a one time thing and I would never see this guy again.  Also after all, I am the consummate clown and my friends were laughing hysterically over this display and that was just fuel for my fire.  His ears were red as he kneeled before me, checking gear to make sure everything was in place.  I looked down and, for a brief moment, I thought “poor guy”.  Little did I know, John would be the key to opening the door to the rest of my life.

The plane made its way to altitude and, just as he promised, John asked me to get to my knees in front of him so I could be strapped to his crotch.  He phrased it differently but, to this day, that is what I “hear” every time one of our Tandem Masters explains to a guest what they are about to experience.  There I sat, feet dangling over the edge of the plane and nothing but blue skies and fluffy clouds all around.  As he barked out the commands, I leaned my head back onto his shoulder, we rocked once, then twice and suddenly we were airborne.  Now, for you veteran sky dancers who have thousands of jumps under your belt – I know doing a Tandem does not even begin to rank high on your happiness meter.  But for me, this sport is new and that moment of “take off” still has control of my heart and causes it to skip a beat at the recollection of my first flight.  We did spins and twists and I lifted my feet to ride my seat in.  We arrived safely on the ground and as John unhinged me, I stood up and the words which left my mouth were laced with F Bombs to amplify the descriptions of my utter joy.  I looked at John and asked him, “Why the fuck do people do drugs when this is available in the world?”  He chuckled and shook his head.

Do you remember the first time you caught the breeze between your knees?  Was it like a first kiss, sweet and soft and containing memories for a lifetime? Was it a pure screaming helluva ride?  Or, have you been in this sport so long and have kissed the clouds so many times you just plain cannot remember it?  I’m interested in hearing about it – shoot me a comment and let me know.

2 Comments

  • It doesn’t matter if it’s your first tandem, or your 300th jump. When the door opens and the cold, fresh air blasts in, and there’s nothing but 2 miles of “down” out there… It’s really, really awesome. The rush and the fear fade somewhat over time, but the anticipation, the euphoria, the joy, the “Holy crap I’m about to FLY!!!” never go away.My heart still leaps in my chest thinking about it. It always has. And I hope it always does. And we’re all a bunch of… interesting people :) Your description of how you acted around your TI isn’t all that unusual.

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