Days never end like you think they are supposed to. This one, however, was more so than usual. Skratch and I got up this morning, sure that we would head to the Drop Zone in Snohomish and make some jumps. He promised Elaine that he would make his first jump back with her, after he had been a couple of years away from skydiving, and I came along to document the proceedings. She recently returned to jumping after a year and a half break for childbirth. The picture above shows the Caravan on the left, waiting for jumpers, and the 182 on the right waiting for a wayward jumper. The silhouetted jumper on the couch is just hanging out waiting for his load.
Aside: Star, thanks for the comments about blog names, and the possibility of "The Skydiving Chronicles." But today really showed me how far in the past the skydiving chronicles really are.
Yes, I made a jump, and it was wonderful. But when you have already accumulated more than 63 HOURS in freefall, a jump is, well, a little bit... familiar. I felt the usual butterflies on the way up, looked out at the spectacular views of Puget Sound and the various mountain ranges, figured out my exit order and talked to the guy jumping out after me and made sure we were doing compatible stuff. He asked me where I planned to exit, and I asked him for his help, since I wasn't sure. He suggested exiting right over the lumber yard, which I did. We looked out together, and then I leaped into the air.
Brisk, not cold. Freefall position stable, terminal velocity reached. I look down and see Highway 9 running north and south below me and start tracking due south. A little moderate track, then putting on the afterburners. Nice and stable. Altitude check. What?! Still at 10.7? OK, what now? More tracking, a backflip (not too much of that, since I promised I would stay on my belly). A look around, first at the Sound, then 180 degrees around to the mountains. Beautiful!! A shout of gratitude and for sheer joy. Beepbeepbeep... another altitude check, and it's time to pitch. A quick wave-off, and I reach for my hackey, find it, and throw it into the air.
Whump! I look up, and my beautiful Stiletto is carving quickly to the left (closed end cells). Before I have a chance to react, I'm flying straight. Looking down, I see that the landing area is right below me, and I need to bleed off some altitude before I start into the pattern. Oh, there he is (my fellow jumper), down below me. Great, I can watch his approach and follow it, which I do. I land close to him, nice standup landing (although I flared just a touch too high, should have let the canopy fly a bit longer before finishing the flare). On the ground. Jump finished, a truly wonderful experience.
Skratch watched the whole thing, getting ready for his jump with Elaine. It's after 1:00pm, and they are supposed to meet at 3:00. He's got his gear together, he's ready. I wish he would jump with me, but he promised Elaine, so we wait. I pack up my gear, change the closing loop, glad for my new dacron lines (which slow down the opening to accommodate my aging bones). I see Skratch adjusting his goggles. Time passes, 3:00 gets here. No Elaine. We discuss what to do, because I can see clearly that his resolution is beginning to waver. He's getting past the place where he wants to jump, I can see it in his eyes. 3:30, no Elaine. He calls her and leaves a message, and a few minutes later she walks up, babysitter was late. But he has already released her, released the jump, and decided not to jump today.
We have a long and illuminating conversation, the three of us, but decide to reschedule. Once Skratch had girded his loins for the jump, the fragile moments when he began to put everything away, thinking that today is not the day, the moment for him to jump was gone. To make a jump, you need to be totally, one hundred percent, present and willing.
I was disappointed, but I saw that for some people, a schedule and a commitment might indeed cause the event to happen, but he is not one of those people. I need a schedule and a place to be every day (which is why I attend a daily workout class), because without it I would never get to the gym, I would flail. But he, on the other hand, chafes against a schedule. We are all so different, but it's clear to me that what needed to happen today did happen, but it wasn't a jump by Skratch and Elaine. It was a clarification of the place that skydiving occupies in my life, in my husband's life, and it's not what it once was.
And that's really okay. But if not "The Skydiving Chronicles," then what?