Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bungy Jumping

Our plan was to get to Mount Cook the next day, but before we could leave the Queenstown area we had to complete a bungy jump first. We arrived at A.J. Hackett, were weighed in and paid for our jumps. They said they would call us in a few minutes as the operators were taking a break. At the same time a “Kiwi Experience” bus arrived and with it a whole bunch of people. The jump is a first come first serve basis so when the operators were done their break there was a bit of a lineup of jumpers. Andrew and I decided I would go first so he could take pictures and he would go once I was done. We walked out onto the bridge but I had to wait a good 20 minutes for all the other jumpers to go before it was my turn. It was a lot colder that day than it had been up until this point so I was shivering by the time it was my turn. Andrew was fluttering around between me and the waiting deck, and I’m not sure if he was just nervous for his own jump or he was looking for the best angle for pictures. Either way, when it was my turn to get harnessed up, he was nowhere to be seen and I went into the “jumpers only” area without seeing him. Once you’re harnessed up, they sit you down and wrap a towel around your ankles followed by a rope. I guess the towel is there so the rope doesn’t cut into your ankles. I was so nervous I couldn’t think straight. The guy was talking to me trying to distract me but the music is so loud in that area and I was so nervous that I couldn’t hear anything he was saying. I kept looking at the observation deck but I couldn’t see Andrew. I felt like I was drunk with fear. I couldn’t see or think straight. The operator than hooked up the bungy cord to my feet and I was surprised by how heavy it was. I felt like it was going to pull me down, which was ridiculous because the whole point of me was to jump off the bridge anyway. As soon as I stood up I could feel the weight of the rope and I inched towards the ledge, which was very awkward as my feet were tied together. I shuffled my feet forward a couple of times, stopped and said I can’t. The operator said, “that’s okay, we’re not jumping yet”, but I lost it, started crying and started shaking my head no and started shuffling back. I had such fear I felt like I was going to throw up. The operator guy told me to relax but I said no and sat back down. He kept asking if I was sure and that’s he didn’t like seeing people back out of it and that everyone who had been terrified but did it anyway loved it afterwards. He told me to go have a cup of coffee and see if I wanted to try again. Then he reminded me that I wouldn’t get my money back. I could not get out of there fast enough and was openly sobbing at that point. I wasn’t scared, I was terrified. But I was also so disappointed with myself. I really thought I could do it and I didn’t expect myself to react this way but I could not stop crying. I walked down the bridge and finally saw Andrew and just started crying in his arms. He told me it was okay and that I didn’t have to jump if I didn’t want to. I was so glad he wasn’t trying to talk me into it. I was hysterical and couldn’t stop crying. I was so angry with myself that I couldn’t do it! I still had an opportunity to jump, but I knew I couldn’t do it. There was no way I was going to go up there again and try. Watching other people made me want to throw up. Any excitement I saw in it before was gone.

Andrew then went to the bridge for his jump. As I expected, as he was getting harnessed up and tied in he was laughing the whole time. I know he was nervous but it was a different kind of nervous for him. I was terrified where he was excited. I watched him walk right up to the ledge and the operator had to hold him from jumping right away. They first take a picture with their cameras. They then counted him down, 5-4-3-2-1! And I saw him jump up and dive into the air. There was a “whooo hooo” scream that came out of him. It all lasted less than 10 seconds but for me it was forever. He was lowered into the dingy waiting at the bottom in the river and all I could see was a huge smile and he looked up and gave a huge thumbs up! I was trying to be happy for him but I was so disappointed with myself I had to force myself to smile. He had to walk back up to the top and while he was walking I had to tell myself, be happy for him. This is something he really wanted to do, stop feeling sorry for yourself and be happy for him. Which I was, so I was surprised when he finally made it to the top, to see that he wasn’t as excited as I expected him to be. I expected him to be high on adrenaline but when I asked him how he felt, he shrugged and said “good”. Later I found out he expected it to be more of a rush. He feels the rush doesn’t last long enough and just when you’re getting that rush, it stops. Apparently jumping off a bridge is not enough of a rush for him.

The only consolation I had for myself was that I now knew the answer to the proverbial question: “If everyone was jumping off the bridge, would you?” I know now the answer to that question is no!

We left AJ Hackett after purchasing the photos and video of Andrew jumping so we can have this moment on camera forever.

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