Fear is a funny thing. It gets a bad rap, but when you think about it, it accompanies all the really great moments in our lives. I know it seems counterintuitive, but rather than strategically avoiding situations cloaked in fear, we should indeed be seeking them. I did this--I sought out adrenaline spiking activities--for two weeks, and became a bit of a junkie real quick. I started simple, nothing too crazy, and went snorkeling with some sharks. I know what you are thinking, and the answer is yes, I have this much free time. I coerced Tucker into joining, which at the time she wasn't pleased about, but ultimately thanked me for enriching her life. We were freaking out in the moments leading up to it, and even in the moments after we were in the water with the giant man eaters, but once you accept that death is probable, you find you become shockingly liberated. We were in the water for about 45 minutes with the 10 or so sharks, sting-rays, turtles and other freakishly large fish. Seriously. I don't know if these fish compete in athletics for their schools (see what I did there), but if they do, these were the Shaquilles of each. At the end of our fear factor thrill, we were issued certificates demonstrating the completion of our impressive experience. Those bad boys went straight to the fridge when Tucker and I got home.
Next stop on the adrenaline train was a little cliff diving. One of my new Australian friends actually suggested this and when opportunity knocks, well, you answer my friends. And so, on a lovely Thursday afternoon I met Taryn at the train station and we headed to "Blackies", a popular cliff line near Perth just along the river. I was really looking forward to this and wasn't scared at all. That moment was fleeting, unfortunately, and as we approached the rocky cliff I suddenly felt as though I might throw up my intestines. Pretty graphic image, but that's what good writers do, we put you in the moment, and in that moment it felt like projectile vomiting was a virtual certainty. As with any moment involving the upchuck reflexes, witnesses are always ideal, so I was rather pleased when I saw that there were two guys fishing while we were preparing to jump. Amused and eager to watch, the guys became instrumental in our jumping as photographers. Anyways, back to the throwing up, it didn't happen, luckily, but that doesn't mean I didn't find alternative methods of embarrassing myself. Like screaming. Man can I scream. It's frightening, honestly, and typically scares me more than I was originally scared. The worst part of the jump, hands down, was the piercing temperature of the water. It truly takes your breath away as well as your ability to swim without flailing your arms dramatically about. I understand it's winter or whatever, but someone should do something about it. Unacceptable.
After successfully jumping off Blackies, I decided I wanted to be scared like that again. Cliff diving on steroids essentially, so the natural progression lead me to skydiving. Fifteen minutes later I was booked for the following week, though this time I found myself less persuasive in convincing Tucks (or anyone else) to join me; however, Tucker wouldn't miss the opportunity to be there for what could be my final morning. The days leading up to the dive I actively avoided thinking about the jump. My check-in time on Thursday was 8:30am in York, about 2 hours away. Eesh. That was both the longest and quietest car ride I've ever experienced. Neither of us knew how to say our potential good-byes, and both of us surely couldn't be bothered to figure that out at 6am. I think the insanity of what I was about to do truly hit us as we turned onto the dodgy dirt road leading to perhaps the tiniest and presumably hazardous plane you'll ever see. I immediately regretted this decision.
I wanted to back out, but that would mean losing my 300$ and I couldn't live with that. What can I say, I was raised to appreciate the dollar more than my life. So I boarded the death trap, begrudgingly, and thought of all the things I'd miss. I had skipped breakfast that morning (admittedly, I was worried the jump would strip me of my ability to control my bowels) so most of my thoughts drifted to my favorite meals: In n Out burger, Sushi, Chipotle, breakfast foods, leftover stuffed-crust pizza, Thanksgiving, Haribo candy, all other candy, the large green olives found at bars, Girl Scout Samoas, Magic Mountain funnel cake, and cherries. The basics really. Things happened really quickly once we had reached 14,000ft. In addition to myself, there were 3 other paying jumpers and 2 who, I am guessing, were jumping to save us in case our parachutes didn't work. I wasn't reassured by this for some reason. I was last. As I scooted down the bench towards the false door on the plane I was grateful I was both dehydrated and starving. Strapped to my master jumper in what can only be described as an adult-bjorn, my legs dangled from the plane along with my remaining hope for survival. And then it happened: he leaned forward and we were plummeting toward the ground, somewhere between flying and falling, and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with excitement. We were free falling for a minute before the parachute deployed, and then for four minutes we just floated among the clouds. It's unlike anything else. It was the longest and shortest 5 minutes of my life and I can't wait to do it again someday.
This is the first year I've celebrated my birthday outside the country. I assumed that would mean it would be a very unremarkable one since I'd be away from my closest friends and family, but I was happily mistaken. Tucker, my lovely teammate and roomie decided to throw a little surprise party for me at her place on Sunday afternoon. The surprise was successfully alarming and the party was equally fun! There was even cake and presents like birthdays in America--who knew? It was a great day and another happy reminder of how blessed I am. I missed my mama, who always takes me to sushi dinner with family, but it was still a great time.
Although I pretend to not be, I am still a tourist of this fine country, and so I still do touristy things once in a while. As I approach my final month in Australia, I am doing my best to ensure I have seen all this place has to offer (at least Perth area where I live). All the locals repeatedly informed me that a visit to Rottnest Island for the day was a must. It's only a 30-minute ferry ride away and it's meant to be remarkable. Taryn, my mate that jumped Blackies with me, was the lucky volunteer who gave me the tour. We snorkeled, biked and played with Quokkas and it was nothing short of brilliant. All that is left on my list of Aussie adventures is attending a footy game, Australian Football Rules, and thanks to our bye this weekend, I will be doing just that on Saturday.