Falling Free

Elena Wasserman, Staff Writer

Well it’s impossible for me to start writing my column without being a little nostalgic of high school. Not sure if any of you have realized, but the school year will be ending in less than a month, and the seniors will be throwing up their graduation caps on a hot sunny day on the Miramonte field soon enough. Those of you who are also seniors, I want to congratulate you. We really did make it. And for anyone who isn’t a senior—incoming freshman, sophomores and juniors alike, I want to give you just a little word of advice.

As cheesy and stupid as it may sound, be sure to treasure these years you have. Even though the school stress, SAT stress, AP stress etc is very stressful; these years you have ahead are the last few you have as a dependant student. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled to graduate and start a new chapter in my life, but I also do realize that when I move out of the house this upcoming September, I’m hoping it’s for good. Of course I want to visit my family and stay for the summers, but I am someone who plans to get my own place after college and start my life as an independent adult (woah).

My first hoorah of adulthood happened when I turned the big 18 a few weeks ago in April. Sure I knew I was able to vote, enlist in the army, buy lottery tickets etc, but when I turned 18, the thing I was most excited about was the fact that I could jump out of a plane. That’s right, when I turned 18, my childhood best friend and I went skydiving. A few other of my classmates had done it before too, most memorably Connor Gallegos, who did it for his challenge project in English 4 and is now a licensed skydiver. He can now go jump out of a perfectly good airplane whenever he wants for only 15 dollars. However, for your first time and training, it is a little more expensive.

For your first time skydiving, you MUST go tandem, which means you are strapped to a very experienced, licensed skydiver who basically does everything for you. You fall through the sky together and it’s their job to pull the shoot (thank god).

My friends’ parents and mine thought we were insane for wanting to go skydiving, but Kate and I couldn’t care less. We booked our appointment at Bay Area Skydiving, and went skydiving the weekend after my 18th birthday.

People don’t believe me when I say this, but there was not one moment where I was perpetually terrified. During the whole week of waiting to go, to when we arrived at the Skydiving arena in Byron, to when we were putting on our suits for the jump–Kate and I were both so excited to do the jump. Trust me, it surprised me too. Other than seeing the plane right when we arrived in Byron, there was no moment where I doubted going. Seeing the plane made it more real for us, but surprisingly got us even more excited. Also, we had to wait TWO HOURS until we could jump. They were running behind, so Kate and I ended up just sitting on the picnic tables outside eating power bars and watching other people parachute down from the bright blue sky. The more people we saw parachute down, the more we wanted it to be our turn.

Well, thankfully, our turn was finally up. I had ordered a camera as well to capture my first jump, which required a licensed skydiver to jump with us with a Go-Pro attached to his helmet. How cool would that job be? So fricking cool. Anyways, Kate and I put on our suits and harnesses on, and soon enough we were climbing into the small plane that was going to take us up to 13,000 feet up where we would jump. What felt like a five second ride, was a 15 minute flight up to our designated height in the air where soon enough I was harnessed very tightly to my tandem partner and moving to the opening of the plane. Our camera guy was holding onto the plane with one hand trying to snap us as we moved to the platform we had to jump from. The camera guy said smile, I smiled, and with one small step I started plummeting through the sky.

It. Was. Amazing. My instructor tapped me three times so I could let go of my arms, and our photographer free fell with us for a good minute snapping shots of my face being squished in the wind while we were going about 150 mph. My instructor eventually pulled the chute and we shot up as it opened. We then had four minutes of smooth gliding through the air while looking at the incredible view that included the bay, Mt. Diablo, and much much more. The landing was as graceful as parachuting down, and once my feet touched the ground I wanted to do it again.

I know it sounds even cheesier than what I said before, but this jump was so freeing. Not once did I think about calculus, college housing, or anything else for that matter. All I could do was tell myself to remember this fall forever, because I felt free. And if you convince yourself to skydive too, you’ll feel free as well. Free yourselves Matadors, you deserve it! You just have wait until you’re 18!