Wednesday, April 14, 2010
A Bird in the Hand
When my children were small I felt sure that I would meet a regrettable end careening down our staircase after tripping over a Polly Pocket playhouse left precariously at the top of the stairs. I made my husband swear that, upon such an ill-fated occasion, he would write a wonderfully descriptive obituary that would claim my demise was a result of a heli-skiing accident and that he would groom the kids accordingly so they would support the bleak tale in their preschool, thus leaving me in memoriam with some shred of dignity.
Even now the idea, that I would perish trying to avoid the great Turdus Migratorius is fitting in an oddly satisfying sense. I have leapt willingly from airplanes, flown them solo a time or two, taken 1200 pound horses over stone walls, and dove down to the ocean depths with sharks, but today my obituary nearly read “died tragically and suddenly while irresponsibly drinking her morning coffee and maneuvering her minivan out of the path of an oncoming songbird”. As I brought the vehicle I fondly refer to as the MomBomb, which ironically emits a gentle airplane-like engine hum, back under control I remembered the days behind the yoke of my Cessna and laughed at the irony of this day and the many many days that had passed between then and now.
How had so much changed? There is a canyon like chasm between bypassing ultralight aircraft or even birds in flight under a parachute canopy and this. As an avid skydiver, I have spent many days mixed among clouds and azure skies doing the former and yet to use the term 'distant memory' is hardly descriptive enough. Continuing my drive to work, I laughed out loud at my choices, and time, and moments that force us to see ourselves clearly. I put my coffee mug securely into the cup holder and surrendered to reminiscences of the past.
Twelve years ago my husband and I boarded a King Air at Bay Area Skydiving in Byron, California. Our three month old daughter was on the ground with friends as we enjoyed another skydive. The engines revved and the smell of jet fuel filled the fuselage; a rush of adrenaline that I had become so dependent on filled my veins. A deep breath, a look around at my fellow jumpers, no doubt a smile from ear to ear and we rolled down the runway. Perfect blue skies. Seated on the floor, I leaned back between my husband’s legs and pressed my back up against his chest.
I had jumped hundreds of times, but the anticipation was different that day and I remember it well. I leaned back with my mouth near my husband’s ear and said “What are we doing? We are throwing both of our baby's parents out of a plane.” I can't remember if he heard me over the engine noise, but I heard me loud and clear. I love skydiving, I miss it, and I believe in it for everyone, parents included. But the irony of our actions that day made me see something about myself I had not seen before. It was my last jump.
I do love a thrill and admittedly adrenaline is still my drug of choice, though my fixes are few and far between. Life is kind that way, there is irony in the ordinary - subtle wake up calls to grab onto gratitude and acknowledge the value of simply being content.
I hope that Robin appreciates what I did for him this morning? He owes me a thank you. And I him.