Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Pic sniped from Adam-- Sorry, I didn't ask permission
How to Jump Point
Jesse stepped up behind me and moved right off the edge. This was his fifth or sixth jump in a row, but I had lost count. Christian huffed a little behind and said, as he passed, “You’ll feel better if you just jump. The longer you stand up here, the harder it gets.” Then, ‘plip’, he moved the air over any possible safe zone and started free falling as he turned end over end in a quick flip. His feet split through the water and he sank beyond sight. When he surfaced he looked back up at me. We were both treading, he in water, and me in decision.
When Jesse came up again, he started to put on his shirt. “Wait,” I said. “Go down there so you can show me how to get up.”
“You really going to do it this time?”
He jumped, again (eighth? ninth?), and at once he was looking back up. For some reason I thought that time would cease right there, and maybe I could just stay up here, waiting, treading, stalling. Christian was already behind me again and offered to count.
“Ok. Fine. Yeah.” I breathed in hard, and when he reached three, my feet seemed to detach from my body but I had the slight sensation that I was moving forward, and then,
It’s here that I always feel stuck.
When you lift off from that position, where your feet forget how to return to your last step, you hover for a moment, as if to emphasize your hesitation in making this decision. You’d probably never notice it if you were the type to just charge, but if you stand up there, deciding, imagining, resisting, then that moment beyond taking it back is torturous. You wonder if you’re doing this for pride or thrill. Then you see your foolishness, because in one second, either gain will be forgotten.
From there I almost felt myself rise, impossibly, in the air, and next there was the drop where inertia keeps part of your body in place, but the weight is forced to follow gravity. When I hit the water I realized I’d forgotten all about feet placement. My natural instinct was to sit slightly. Reaching for the surface I only felt stinging skin on my left side. My breath shook in and out of my lungs to skip lightly away from the shock.
Standing here again in the moonlight I can hear the wind fighting the ocean to be heard. I followed the group here, and even if I had told myself that I could back out at any time, I had also led some people to believe that I was planning on jumping tonight. For a while we are all quiet, watching a few people leave shirts on the rocks, discard slippers, and fall into the ocean. The people leaving our platform always make more noise than we do; when they are gone the loss of voice is replaced by wind. I notice the light bouncing off our faces and start humming, pushing the notes out into the air a little. A boy who followed me here is humming too, and so is another one a little ahead of us. The wind is so loud that I can’t distinguish our notes from the mesh of ocean and air voices. I can only feel that there is music carrying past my ears, but no one seems to notice. I smile a little.
Walking up to the edge we watch a friend preparing to jump, and suddenly we become excited and nervous. I say something like “You’re crazy! Look how dark it’s getting!” The clouds pass over the moon and we can barely see our outlines. As I look down to the water I see a gaping black, but one that feels vast and close at the same time.
She yells back to me, over the chorus of music in our surrounding air, “I’d rather not see! Then I can pretend it’s not high at all!” She jumps quickly with her long legs trailing out behind so I can barely imagine what it looks like at the finish. For some reason I can’t force my mind to bring her legs back underneath her and straight into the water, so instead I picture a flip—at least then she makes it into the water in a comfortable position. I suddenly realize that I am going to jump, and I’m going to do it right away. The boy who followed me starts protesting: “I’m not going to jump. Are you going to? There’s no way I’m going to jump.”
“Yeah, I am.” I start taking off my shirt.
“Please, don’t jump. Then I’ll have to jump.”
“Naw, you don’t have to jump. I’m going to.” I get into position, and for a second I wonder how long I am going to stand up there. Wind sings again in my ears, even a little faster when I’m in that moment of upward motion, and when I start falling I picture that blackness, and wind, and music reaching up towards me. I swear it makes a move to catch me.
Scribbled by Mariko at 2:17 PM