When I was in my early 20’s and mostly invincible, we stood stooped, half-in and half-out of a plane with a max occupancy of four people including the pilot. It was louder than I thought it would be.
I wondered how many people changed their minds once the door was open.
“I wanna go skydiving!” he said. “Do you wanna go skydiving?”
I jumped, and hurled toward the ground around 120 miles per hour along with the man strapped to my back. I wish I remembered his name.
I hadn’t expected the sensation of breathing happening too quickly when that much air is rushed into your face. “Stop gulping the breaths,” I thought. I didn’t have a fear of dying.
I was glad he’d be the one to pull the parachute string because I was sure that I’d forget on my own. Not that I’d do this on my own, obviously. I was stupid but not stupid stupid.
As I flew, I remembered that people bounce without parachutes and wondered how I knew. Wished I didn’t know then decided I’d probably heard it at a party and thought about how we remember meaningless information like people bouncing without parachutes but not high school algebra.
I thought about the weird stuff we think about when we’re on sensory overload, reaching terminal velocity on an on-purpose freefall. The only sound you hear is the air whooshing by your ears.
We landed safely, skidding to a stop in the Nevada dirt.
“I can do anything,” I said.
The first time I went scuba diving, it was a beach dive. I thought that’d be easier but hadn’t anticipated how much the waves would jiggle me around while we flippered further and further out. It took getting to deeper, calmer water and fish RightThere for me to relax and quit sucking so much oxygen from my tank.
The only sound you hear is the bubbles leaving your body, floating by your ears.
Our instructor picked up a tiny stingray and held it out to me. “No way,” I shook my head. When it was time to turn around, I didn’t want to go. I no longer had a fear of dying.
We flippered back up, stopping every 15 feet to level oxygen levels and pop our ears.
Back on the boat, I took the weights off my waist. Grinned.
“I can do anything,” I said.
As of right this second, the world’s population grew by 200,000 people today,* which means more humans are born each second than die. In spite of overcrowding and too much traffic, this statistic comforts me, as if it affects my odds of living a long life. I have a fear of dying.
I sat in the back seat of the car for the first few years of my newborn’s life because silent prayers and nervous mommy energy would be enough to save us in the case of an accident. I finally understood why people have those ridiculous “Baby on Board” decals in their windows. They want everybody else to be careful, too.
I search the skies. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight… I wish I may and wish I might to have this wish I wish tonight.
I wish to live to be at least 80. I wish that I’ll know my son as an adult.
I rarely picture his baby watermelon head and instead worry that he opens the front door when I’m upstairs. I no longer skydive and haven’t been scuba diving since my husband and I went on our honeymoon which was after my friend Sara and I briefly considered a life as scuba instructors in Turks and Caicos (happy birthday Sara).
I won’t go skydiving again, but I may take my son scuba diving…
It’s funny how much more precious life becomes after bringing another’s into your own. Since my son was born, my own life is more valuable. I have to be there for him. I have a fear of dying that I never had in my youth.
Wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.
*I got my statistic on how many people are born and die each day from this cool site called WorldOMeters. I can’t explain why it’s so mesmerizing but it is (I was not compensated for including their link, I just find it fascinating).
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence was “When it comes to death…” which can be interpreted any which way, including the death of a houseplant, a life transition, etc.