Essay 160 Miles an Hour Back to Earth

Essay 160 Miles an Hour Back to Earth

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Vacations with my dad began like ritual; the ceremonial collecting of every brochure and pamphlet in sight and the eventual sacrifice of our down time by meticulous scheduling that filled every second of our trip with some or the other activity. Our trip to Cape Town, South Africa was no different. Seconds struggled by as I found myself, once again, waiting for my parents to finish talking to the tourist relations agent in our hotel. They had laid out every single brochure on the counter, and were asking for complete details on each attraction in the area. Knowing I had some time to play with, I started counting floor tiles until something caught my eye towards the back of the room. It was a poster of a lunatic, gleefully falling from an airplane. I got closer and read the caption, “Want the thrill of a life time? Skydive Mosel Bay! First Timers Welcome!” Against my better judgment, I turned to my dad and, pointing to the poster, begged him, “Hey Dad, I don’t care what else we do while we’re here, but I have to do this!” To my pleasant surprise he turned around and grinned, “Okay! As long as I get to go first. If I see you go first, I think I will lose my nerve.”
We decided to go the next day. It took us forty minutes to drive out to a tiny airstrip in the outskirts of a city named Mosel Bay. The weather was fantastic when we arrived, with a cool breeze in the air that smelled so faintly of insanity. We were greeted warmly by a gentleman named Hank, a freefall tandem master, whom my dad had talked to the day before to schedule us for the freefall. Hank would be in charge of the freefall.
“Welcome to Mosel Bay Gents,” Hank beckoned. As I had recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan, Hank joked, “Y...

... middle of paper ...

... it open. Hank and I began gliding through the air. It took about ten minutes for us to complete the remaining five thousand feet. We touched down on the airfield very softly and were quickly met by my parents. For the rest of the vacation, my Dad and I could not stop talking about our experience. Every joke somehow ended up tying back into jumping out of an airplane.
Skydiving was truly one of the most liberating and thrilling experiences of my life. It brought my Dad and I even closer as we shared the occasion and the emotional rollercoaster that it spawned. But the moral of the story is not the general ‘once in a lifetime’ must do activity to open your eyes. Its lesson is more practical and simple: In order to best enjoy a ten thousand foot freefall at one hundred and sixty miles an hour, make sure you wear your parachute!

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