Free Falling

The sun was high in the sky as we pulled onto the gravel parking lot.  I looked for a parking spot and finally found one.  The lot was surprisingly full for such a small town in the middle of nowhere.  The rumor goes that Taft stands for Tweakers And Fat Tourists.  From what I can see my son and I are the only exceptions to the rule. Today is my son’s 16th birthday.  I’m beginning to wonder if I chose the right gift to give him.  My maternal instincts are kicking in.  But, I promised my son two things for his big day – skydiving and I stop smoking.  I suck up my fears and usher my son towards the lobby area.  I want a cigarette, and wish I hadn’t stopped smoking this morning.  We sign in, fill out paper work which basically states that if we die it’s our own fault, and take a seat.  I doubt my decision again.

A tall gangly thirty something stoner dude approaches us, his long hair pulled back into a messy ponytail.  Please don’t let him be the one that’s in charge of this operation.  Stoner dude says to me and my son, “Let’s do this”.  My stomach turns.  We follow our guy to the prep area where several other petrified patrons are being harnessed and strapped into buckles and restraints.  My son is lead over to the strapping area and wrapped in an array of ropes and chains and hardware.  Dude holds up a video camera and begins to ask my son questions.  I jump in behind my son and begin to sing happy birthday.  Suddenly everything feels okay.  Everything seems to be going fine, and dude seems to know what he’s doing.  This is going to be all right after all.  “Why isn’t Mom going to jump with you?” says dude.  I respond, “Mom has bad knees and has to go to the bathroom”.   I’m told the bathroom is down the runway to the left and that I should hurry.  Before I know what’s happening I’m running down the tarmac toward the bathroom, back again and stepping into my own harness.  I’m not supposed to be sky diving.  That’s not the deal that my son and I made.

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