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Published: March 11, 2020
Perhaps, on this day, it happens as sunlight peeks through the blinds of your bedroom window or the tone of your alarm nudges you awake. Either way, as your eyelids open, though still a little groggy and heavy with sleep, the realization is almost instantaneous-today is the day.
The reservation was made well in advance, but until now, it almost didn't seem real. You are going skydiving.
As you get up and mill about, brewing a cup of coffee and grabbing a light bite to eat before heading out the door, it feels like your morning is most surreal. You know you're here and this is real, but you can't believe the adventure you're about to embark on.
For all intents and purposes, it seems this day is like any other, but you know, from a feeling caught just below your breastbone, this day holds something special. The ride on the LIRR isn't anything out of the ordinary and the Uber driver that picks you up from the Mastic/Shirley station isn't overly chatty--that is until you tell him where you're headed and why! "Skydiving? How cool. I knew someone that did that. I could never. How'd you decide to do that? Are you going alone? Who's going with you?" The list of questions is nearly a mile long, but the ride from the station to Skydive Long Island is fairly short, only 2.3 miles, to be exact. Luckily, you get to your destination before you're subjected to any more inquiries.
When you get to the dropzone, there's an audible buzz of energy. This energy is amplified when you spot the smiling faces of the friends you roped into joining you. After all, everything's better with a buddy! As you finish filling out your paperwork, you feel primed with nervous energy-a kaleidoscope of butterflies fluttering in your stomach. Someone cracks a joke about how this was all your idea, and you're the most anxious looking of the bunch. A little laughter is just what you needed. It helps snap you out of your nerve induced daze to take in everything around you.
There's the drum of the airplane engine. Hoots, hollers and excited chatter from the customers that have gone before you milling in and out of the hangar. Their faces lit up with grins stretching nearly from ear to ear. You've never seen facial expressions quite as bright as these before.
It's time to watch the training video. It's pretty quick and to the point. The video explains to you and your friends the skydiving process and how you should position your body in freefall. It feels like no time at all until you meet the instructor who's going to introduce you to the experience of a lifetime. He's young and quick witted, but entirely professional. He helps you slide the harness on and talks you through each step. You feel calm as you board the plane, comforted by the steady metronome of the propeller. The plane lifts from the runway and the world becomes small beneath you.
After a few moments, your instructor taps you on the shoulder, it's time. As the door swings open, a cool rush of air fills the plane. Here is fear, but here is also the opportunity to face fear and emerge victorious. Your heart is pounding in your ears, but you're ready.
Ready. Set. Go.
You launch out to the world below. This is an adrenaline rush unlike any other. In these moments, the passage of time is slowed. Though, you know, you're rushing through the air at terminal velocity, touching nearly 120 mph. Suddenly, the parachute is deployed.
In an instant, you're floating, suspended above the world. You notice first the ambient silence and then the views. There's the Hamptons. There's Fire Island. Here is where the water touches land. Your instructor points out each sight. At this moment, your senses are hyper alert. You take everything in as if it's the first time you've really seen the world around you. Your instructor steers you back to the dropzone. The landing is easy. You sweep in like a bird lighting on the ground--easy and exact. Just like that, you're back on solid land, and adrenaline is still tingling in your fingertips and toes. This was your first skydive, and you know your life will never be the same. So now, what's next?
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