A couple weeks ago, my sister-in-law Summer was telling me about her family's adventure at Lava and how she and Dave took bets about who in his family would jump off the 40 foot platform there. "I said you would for sure," she said. I agreed and then my chicken-little self thought, "Good thing we're not going somewhere with a 40-foot platform so I don't have to prove myself."
The next week Mike's family decided to head up to Lava Hot Springs for a little family trip. I felt my heart sink a little as I thought about painful past experiences with high dives--the 10-foot kind at the old Clearfield High pool--water up the nose, skin-slapping sorts of painful experiences.
Grace has never been my claim to fame. Awkwardness, yes. High dives require grace. I imagined all sorts of awkwardness could happen in the seconds it took to fall to the pool--and I imagined my dad's voice when I was small and euphorically relating how fun I thought it would be to jump off of a really tall bridge into water, because it wouldn't hurt. "Oh no," he said. "That would be like hitting cement."
On Wednesday we went to the Roy Aquatic Center with Mike's family. Summer, Sherrie and I took a turn going down the slides there. "How high did you say that platform at Lava is, Summer?" I asked as we stood on the steps, dizzyingly high above the ground, waiting for our turn.
"It's like 40 feet," she said, seemingly excited at the possiblities.
"Oh." I said, contemplating throwing myself off the ramparts of the stairs. "I wonder how high these water slides are?"
"Let's ask," said Summer.
"They're like 28 feet," said the teen lifeguard.
"So, it's 10 feet higher than this," said Summer giddily. "Imagine that." Sherrie was non-commital. I looked down and tried to picture myself jumping. I had a hard time imagining just standing on the platform, 10 feet higher than where I was standing. I started trying to think of ways to get out of this. I should have told Summer that I'm a certified chicken, not nodded my head sagely, agreeing that it was totally something I would do. I was going to have to do some serious pep talking to myself before this weekend.
I had to resort to race day tactics to gear myself up for the platform jump. Friday as we packed for the trip, I visualized myself jumping off the high dive. Straight. Keep your body straight. I decided if I was going through with it, I would need a more secure swim suit. My current swim suit falls into the "cute, not functional" category. Pain and indignity would be okay, but not with my swim suit flipped over my head. So I packed a tighter, not cute, top and some secure shorts. I was resigned to the 40-foot* jump.
When we arrived at the pool I tried not to look too hard at the platforms. There were three staggered at different heights. Mike thought we should work our way up. I thought, "There's no way in heck I'll be able to go off the top one if we go off the "lower" ones too. I just have to do it. Before I even get wet. I've got to go."
We agreed that the girls would go first. Stacie, Sherrie, Summer and I headed up the stairs. And up some more. And then up again. Stacie had to give Sherrie a little push to continue when she paused and looked over the side at the middle platform. I was winded when we reached the top.
"We can do this Steph," said Stacie. Who was rather matter-of-fact about the whole thing. "We did a marathon."
"Yes," I wanted to say. "But that didn't feel like hitting cement." (Well, actually it kind of did) Two of us could jump at the same time, and I somehow ended up in front of Stacie and Sherrie with Summer, the pro. I think I figured that if I watched them go it would freak me out.
The guys in front of us asked us if we'd gone off before. I mumbled "No."
"It's farther than you think."
"Shhh! Shh!" I said. "Don't say that." I turned around for a picture with Stacie and Sherrie. When I turned back around, I gasped.
"Oh! They're gone!" The guys had disappeared into the oblivion.
I felt terrified, but somehow I ended up with Summer at the edge. I staunchly refused to look down. I knew if I did there would be NO POSSIBLE WAY IN HECK that I would jump. The mountain across the road seemed like a good visual.
"We're up!" said Summer cheerfully. I think I might have clung to the side for a minute, thinking what a good life I had. How all my body parts worked. "Are you going to go?" said Summer. I must have nodded or said something."Okay. On the count of three. One. Two. Three."
I closed my eyes and stepped off.
This is the third (!) and final jump we did off of the platform. If I had left this picture large you could scroll in and see the look of abject terror on my face, as well as the exuberant smile on Summer's. Summer said she could hear me whimpering on the way down. Thanks Summer! I wouldn't have done it without you, and I am glad I did it.
Here we are before the first jump. "You all look like little ants down there." (Name that movie) That falling feeling is amazingly awful. I sustained a few minor injuries from sitting into my last jump, and Summer and I decided that running off the platform was not a good idea, since it leaned us a little too far forward. I'd do it again, just for the pictures and memories. The actual experience is kind of terrifying. I wonder if I could ever get over the absolute horror I feel when I first step off?
*On the web site it says the platform is only 33 feet tall. My gosh. It felt like 100.