Think about what it must feel like to fly. To have wings. To catch the breeze and feel it rush through your lungs, freeing you of worry and doubt. Because if you can fly, you can do it all, have it all, believe in it all. If you can fly, you can love. And if you can love, you can hurt.
So what if I could fly? What if I told you, I could fly? You wouldn’t believe me, that’s for certain. I’d be locked away – feared of some inanimate fall to my own suicide. Given pills to make me “better, happier, less sad,” they’d say. But no, what if we all believed we could fly – not in the gravitational state of being but more metaphorical. Fly into love, to hurt, to suffering, to creativity, and inspiration. Would we cherish life more, appreciate the ground and all that we take from it? Would we do what we want for ourselves and not look to society for validation? Would we be better for it? Better for ourselves, better for those around us? If only. . .we let ourselves fly.
I jumped. I didn’t want to, but I did it anyway. With me I took none of my belongings. All I brought was a memory.
I was high up and when I looked down I couldn’t remember why I was up here in the first place. The altimeter read 7,823 ft. We were getting close. 10,000 ft – that’s when he told me we’d jump. It had never been on my bucket list to jump out of a plane. Why of all times did I have to do this now? Yes, I had been drunk last night, but wow, that last bourbon really sealed the deal. I looked at him. In the bar last night he didn’t seem like the type to jump out of planes for a living. Or was he? What do those types look like, I thought to myself. I quickly shook the image to refocus on the important stuff like what in god’s name was I doing in a plane with an Austrian man at a now 8,000 ft high whom I’d only met last night over one too many bourbons in a small town dive bar?
I wasn’t supposed to be meeting men and I sure as hell wasn’t supposed to be meeting men and jumping out of small planes above the Austrian Alps with men. I was supposed to be hunkered down, waiting for snow drifts to trap me inside my small Airbnb I had found in a spout of loneliness and mindless internet surfing. I wasn’t supposed to be bourboning up with some Austrian man who jumps from planes for a living. I mean…could you imagine what married life would be like with a man who jumps from planes?! Every day, every jump, every unanswered phone call rolling around in your brain like an unopened parachute. Is he dead? Is he alive? Did he just break every bone in his body and I’ll be the one responsible for washing his fingers and toes; careful not to wet his full body cast? I mean these are things you think about when you’re 9,889 ft above the ground, right?
9,889 ft?! OH SHIT.
And just like that, with the faintness smell of bourbon escaping his well oiled beard, the tall, unassuming, Austrian man had wrapped his arms around me and slid opened the door to the Cessna 182 aircraft. And with a tumble, we were free falling. Free falling into the only thing I brought into that plane with me. . .
. . . a memory.