Essay 2 January 26, 1992
I’m more scared than I have ever been in my life. Here I am standing with my toes hanging over the edge of a bridge one hundred and forty feet above the water rushing through the gorge, wondering what in the world I’m doing here.
The day had started beautifully, with the warm sunlight streaming through my window and without a cloud in the sky, which was a real treat in Whidbey Island, Washington. My friend and I decided to get ourselves into some trouble, but the little town was still asleep. We had heard from a fellow trouble maker that we could pay to go bungee jumping up in Canada, so we thought we would go up there and try it out.
It was a long ferry ride to the green forested island of Victoria, shrouded in clouds, approaching us majestically through the water. We drove for what seemed like forever, through beautiful aspen forests with moss growing on the rock cliffs shearing off overhead and sunlight streaming through the trees creating a patchwork of shadows on the highway. As we approached our destination, the shadows grew longer, and the day became darker.
We drove up a gravel road to a sign that read “You are now entering the BUNGEE ZONE,” and my friend and I exchanged an excited grin as we parked the truck. We were deep within an evergreen forest, and the air was cold. The sun was being kept prisoner by the tall branches of the trees overhead, and there was a cool wind blowing against us as we hiked up the mountainside. We came to a clearing, and in front of us looked a huge metal bridge traversing a gorge cut into the mountainside, with a large crowd of people standing at the railing by the gorge looking up at the bridge. An excited murmur went through the crowd, and I followed their gaze to the thrillseeker standing at the center of the bridge and crossing himself before jumping off with a terrified scream. The crowd roared with appreciation.
My friend pulled me towards the concession booth, where we paid our money and signed a two-page disclaimer which mentioned the word death at least once in every paragraph. With renewed confidence and my ticket in hand, I walked straight to the outhouse conveniently placed between the ticket booth and the stairs to make sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself later. This done, I approached the stairs which reached into the sky and seemed much wider than before. I sat down on a chair at the top of the bridge and talked to the guy who was strapping my legs together. He told me no one was going to push me, and I could back out anytime I wanted, and if I backed out no one would call me a sissy or a pansy or a candy-ass pantywaist woose girl or anything like that.
Now as I stand looking down at the water I feel a chill running up and down my spine. I think someone must have made a mistake – I must be at least three hundred feet above the water. I look down at the throng of people standing at the railing with their cameras in hand, and I get a round of applause and a few shouts of encouragement. The temperature seems to have dropped a few degrees, I can feel the icy hands of fear grab my guts and give a good squeeze. The instructor yells, “ONE TWO THREE… BUNGEE!!!” and I jump.
The first half second I’m in shock, and the next half second I can feel the vampire of fear sucking the marrow from my bones as I feel pure, stark terror for the first time in my now shortened life. In this instant my eyes slam shut, every muscle in my body cramps, and I stop breathing. In the next instant I open my eyes and scream with delight as I float through the air, and everything is silent except for the rush of cool wind in my ears and the birds singing and the wind blowing through the trees and then the creaking of the bungee cord as it stretched to its limit, gently and deftly pulling me away from the water, five feet below me.
After I’m lowered to a raft in the river, I climb the winding staircase up the side of the gorge and emerge triumphant, sharing a smile with the members of the staff. – I have become a member of the club.