If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? I could almost hear my mom saying this to me when Nic first informed me that we were only about an hour away from a potential experience of the bungee kind. Traditionally meant to make one rethink their follow-the-pack mentality, in my case, the memory of my mom’s query served as a call to action.
In this case, the call to action clearly meant that yes, yes indeed I would jump off a bridge. Because why walk across a bridge when one can instead throw themselves off while attached like a ragdoll to a bungee cable?
Of course, the memory of my mom’s query wasn’t the only factor that convinced me to take a long jump off a short plank. There was also the fact that bungee jumping had been at the top of my list of things to do under the adventure section of my not-so-bucket-list list for quite some time.
To be honest, I was expecting myself to be far more nervous about the entire situation. Instead, Nic and Aldrin and I spent much of the hour before we jumped laughing and carrying on as we watched person after person take their flying leaps. That’s not to say we weren’t nervous, but compared to other things that I’ve done, my nerves were significantly steadier than I figured they would have been.
I wasn’t really nervous when I was strapped into the harnesses as I waited for Aldrin to jump.I wasn’t really nervous when Aldrin jumped. And I wasn’t really nervous when I was learning about the safety protocols. In fact, the only time that I felt nervous was after I walked to the edge of the platform. More specifically, the nerves only hit after my toes were perched over the edge of the platform and the countdown had begun.
Holy crap. This is real.
Yup. There’s only 160ft between me and the river below.
Deep breath, Gillis.
What’s the worst that could happen?
It was at that point that I just stopped thinking and jumped/fell off the platform. And then I was falling like a rock towards the water. To be honest, things happened so fast that I don’t really think I was aware of when my fall ended and when the bungee began to pull me back into the air. All I know is that I remember Wile E. Coyote’ing my way to the ground, instinctually kicking as I fell. And then I was weightless at the top of the arc created by the rebound of the bungee. I remember laughing and cheering and shouting a number of eff yeahs! before gravity and elasticity started the cycle over again. I’d learn later that Nic proudly announced “That’s my advisor!” after I jumped (and again before he jumped).
Once I was pulled back up to the safety of the bridge, Aldrin and I watched as Nic expertly dove off the bridge with an almost perfect swan dive, his cheers announcing his satisfaction with the entire situation. It was brilliant to witness, and in a weird way, filled me with a whole lot of pride. That’s my grad student!
Anyway, it has now been more than 24 hours since we took our dives. The adrenaline rush of the jump has long since worn off, and our hearts have resumed their normal rhythmic paces. Still, the experience of the day keeps flashing through my mind, and with every rehash, I smile – but not because I managed to cross a long-time item off my not-so-bucket-list list.
As with most things in my life, I recognize how damn lucky I am to get to do the things that I get to do. Not everyone would choose to bungee jump off a bridge, but I’m fortunate that I have a choice to do so. I’m also fortunate that I got to experience bungee jumping with Nic. Is it typical for an advisor and his student to go on a bungee jumping adventure together? I have no idea (but I’d wager probably not). What I do know is that I am incredibly grateful and so thankful that Nic saw the opportunity and opted to embrace it. This entire adventure also reminds me of how lucky I am that he opted to return to school to do his Master’s in the first place, and in particular that he decided to trust his graduate training to me. It’s incredibly humbling and overwhelming, and I find it challenging to put into words what it all means to me. Suffice it to say, I feel damn lucky.
A special thanks to Jason and Beth for not only cheering us on but for humouring our call to adventure. And a huge thanks to Aldrin and Nic for making this experience so fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better pair of nerds to jump off a bridge with.
Oh, and for those wondering – yes, I’d absolutely do it again.