Five days we’ve been married. I jokingly told all my friends that we were planning to die this day. With a gentle push from a friend, we had agreed to try this Shotover Canyon Swing thing they had done the last time they were in Queenstown.
All the ads and information made me feel safe, and the lovely girl that sold us our tickets reiterated that. What could go wrong?
Hubby and I go into the van hand-in-hand. Pamphlets in our other hand trying to figure out which jump style we were going to do. We’ve paid now. No backsies.
The drive up the mountainside starts awesome. This van is like a 4×4, with crazy suspension wheels and powerful maneuverability. Looking ahead, there’s no way we can fit in there. There’s a gap there that doesn’t even seem big enough for this van. And if it is, the mountainside will surely give way beneath us. I didn’t lie. I was going to die today!
Instead of watching my imminent demise, I go back to my pamphlet.
This looks more complicated than I originally thought. There are far too many options for death. Hubby tells me he wants to do Backwards. An obvious choice for him, as it rates among the highest of extremes. That throws out my idea of going the easy route and taking cutaway. He can’t get all the props. I decide Gimp Boy Goes to Hollywood, because it sounds funny, and I have the least amount of control on it.
The van stops, and we walk inside. Pictures of previous attempts from hundreds of people line the walls and merchandise is everywhere. We exit and finally see the canyon itself.
That doesn’t look so bad!
Heading down, I tell the staff which option I’ve taken, and they all tell me how awesome it’ll be. I try very hard not to show how fast my heart is racing or how much my hands are shaking. Several people go ahead of me, and as each one drops and screams, my heart shatters. Why did I pay money to fall down a canyon?
It’s finally my turn. I get in the harness very easily, and then I look down the canyon side. Crap. Crap. Crap. That’s much further down than I thought. Since when did I become scared of heights?
They push me off the ledge, and I hold onto the harness for dear life.
Shit… I’m totally effed. I can’t do this. What the hell was I thinking? It’s so far down there!
They tell me that I will need to get my legs up on the rope, so I’m facing down. I laugh hysterically. Nope. Nope. Not doing that. Who’s stupid idea was it to decide to look down as she plummets? Not mine. I don’t know that person. Seriously, what the eff was I thinking?
After some coaxing, they help me get my feet into position. But then, I just want to hold the line at my knees. I’m not looking down. I refuse. Then some jerkface says, “You’ll die if you don’t let go,” and I, precariously dangling from some 109m, choose to believe him. I let go.
I feel movement at my feet. It’s not my own, and instantly I know what it is. My gut skips, and I spread my arms out. Then gravity takes its course.
My eyes fall on the ground beneath me. It’s coming closer with every millisecond. My glasses are not with me, so it’s mostly a blur. But I think it would have been the same even with them on.
The momentum sees me at the bottom within twenty seconds, according to the videos, but for me, time moves much slower. I take in the sights and smells. I feel the air around me change, and then I swing back and forth until the moment they started to pull me back up.
Something in that drop flipped a switch.
All my life I’d been holding on to the things that I should just let go. It was time to leave them behind me, and move on with my life.
I still haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I have this awesome picture to prove that even if I haven’t quite mentally let go of everything, on that day in 2010, I did.