I now have conclusive proof (anecdotal, sure, but personally true) that drinking is more dangerous than skydiving. You see, Monday night, at a party for the opening of IFP Independent Film Week, while drinking a beer from a bottle, I somehow managed to chip the bottom of my front tooth, which also happens to be a crown from a biking accident when I was about 12. Meanwhile, last Saturday (Sept. 13), I jumped out of an airplane and landed with no injuries whatsoever. Jumping might actually be a misnomer. Rather, I fell (deliberately) out of an airplane. There wasn't much actual jumping involved. And the falling happened from roughly 11,500 feet.
Few people were more surprised than I that I chose to partake in such an activity. I'm not what I would consider the extreme sports type, and skydiving was neither a lifelong dream nor even a huge fear I decided I needed to overcome. I don't have problems with heights or airplanes, in general.
The first question most people asked me when I explained that I was planning to do/had done this was, "Were you planning to do so for a long time?" Nope. In fact, I vividly remember one of many San Francisco to Los Angeles drives down Highway 5, this one with my younger cousin David. It was probably about 15 years ago, give or take, when I was in my early-to-mid 20s. Somehow, the topic came up, and David (four years younger than I) mentioned that he had gone skydiving. He told me all about it and how great it was, but my response was essentially, "Wow, that is something I seriously don't ever see myself having any interest in doing."
And then, out of nowhere, a year or two ago (probably due to way too many episodes of The Amazing Race), I suddenly had this urge to jump out of an airplane. This year, kind of out of nowhere, as people began asking me about my summer plans, I found myself responding, "I'm not sure, but I'm thinking of going skydiving." Of course, that was easy to say, especially without any plans or any friends who might go with me. And then, suddenly one day in the midst of an IM chat with my friend Jill (which one of us brought up the topic is an ongoing debate), we both realized that we had been thinking of doing it.
That was in May. The entire summer went by with no action but plenty of threats to each other: "Are we going to do this?" "Yeah, of course." "When?" "I don't know. You tell me." Labor Day approached; Time Out New York listed skydiving as one of the 25 things to do before the end of the summer; Jill had her birthday dinner; and we picked a date (along with a third jumper, her friend Jess.) But we waited too long to make our reservation, and our original date was all filled up. We chose Sept. 13 instead, the weekend after I would return from the Toronto Film Festival and before my birthday.
I came home from Toronto with a horrible cold. Thursday and Friday, I barely got out of bed, hoping that I would feel better enough to drive 90 minutes out to Calverton, Long Island, sign away all liability, step into a harness that would make me look waaaaay heavier than I am, attach myself to a person who has jumped out of planes thousands (probably tens-of-thousands) of times, and then see what it was like to fly, or at least fall.
Below, with somewhat cheesy music and plenty of proof that I should never ever ever give thumbs-up or devil horns with my hands again, is what happened:
Obviously, I survived. A more complete description after the jump ....