En route to Lompoc, to jump out of a plane. Bono is screaming about love.
And when is he not, that preacher of the better part of us?
Here comes an unexpected detour. I catch myself thinking: I cannot wait to fly!
But instead, I make Bono hush down for a bit and watch my co-pilot navigate through the unknown neighborhood with patience I am known to not possess. I’m intense, even in my mightiest lightness. We follow the neon orange signs that appear dusty and somehow tired. It’s a beach town, and other drivers aren’t in a hurry at all. Around the bend, however, I see the pillars of the 101: The cars are zooming by. Freedom!
“I WANNA RUN!” Bono is back to screaming, screeching occasionally, to get the message across.
The last text I send, before turning off my cell phone, is to my BFF — my most kindred heart in this world that has put up with my messy head and impatient soul for over a decade, without much objection. She is my In Case of Emergency; has been, since college. Sure, there have been partners before, who would take over that burden, on an adventure or two. But once they go — the job returns to my most kindred heart.
“In the name of love!
One more! In the name of love!”
Ah: St. Bono!
Interestingly, my BFF and I have rarely spoken about our heartbreaks to each other. Perhaps, it’s because we both know that even when a heart breaks — it gets better, with choice. And our choice has always been for the better parts of us.
Bono puts in his two cents:
‘Cause you’re honest.”
On this part of the 101, the traffic moves. It’s a two-lane construction and we all seem to be quite certain about where we’re going.
For miles and miles, I see California — and it is glorious!
Here she is, stretching in front of me like a reclining redhead, so sure of her witchcraft; with her floor-length hair spilling around her nudity like a shadow. In the fields and farmlands, I am exploring her long limbs: This girl’s got some freckles on her!
When passing through her mountains, I enter her mysterious parts: the curvatures of her hips, and the dimples on her lower back, the hills of her sumptuous behind. In between two green peaks, I am aware of my privilege: My glorious girl has just let me inside. She has surrendered. I dive. I hold my breath a little, pop my ears. I come out on top.
Bono chimes in:
“It’s alright, it’s alright! ALL-RIGHT!
She moves in mysterious ways.”
We take the onramp: 1 North. I’m in the vineyards now: In her hair follicles, behind her earlobes, heading toward the magnificent head of the State. I do love it up there, but I’ve gotta make a stop (somewhere along her clavicle, perhaps): So that I can jump out of the plane — and into the next chapter of me.
And I am thinking: I cannot wait already! And I feel so light!
We pull off onto the side of the road: Here. Finally! But if it weren’t for the single-engine aircraft that looks like it’s been constructed from scrap metal found nearby, I wouldn’t know it.
We check in with a girl next door — at the front desk. She’s skydived 87 times by now! Badass.
In a company of a giggling young lovebirds, we watch two safety videos.
Sign off our lives.
On the other side of the building where we’ve been sent to wait for our instructors, I see a handful of young boys cracking themselves up at the footage of other people’s faces blown into the hideous grins by the g-force. As these impatient souls fall out of the plane, one by one, the video plays music. But I can lipread:
“OH MY GOD!”
I laugh. I feel so light, so fearless!
Can’t I just live like this forever and ever, in a perpetual state of expecting my next flight?!
On the other side of the divider, two other badasses are crawling all over the carpeted floor, putting together parachutes. And I see her — IMMEDIATELY:
She is exactly my height, small and equally as brown; with an intense face, that also resembles mine, even in the moments of my mightiest lightness. Besides a sports bra and a pair of boy shorts, she is wearing a pair of giant headphones. She’s in her head. After all: She’s got human lives in those brown, strong hands of hers.
“Yo, Eric!” she screams out and lifts up one of the headphone muffs. “Fuck the apple! Get me a Red Bull, yeah?”
And then, she’s back to crawling all over the carpeted floor: Badass! She untangles the lines, gathers the off-white nylon into her arms and dives. The cloud catches her small, brown body and it deflates, slowly.
“Vera? Um. VIE-RRA?!”
Another brown girl has been calling me over: It’s time for the gear. She is a sweetheart, but her hands know exactly what to do: Badass! She insists on talking to me the entire time, but about life and something so light and so fearless. The harness is heavy and I feel grateful for that: It weighs me down, or I would fly off, from all this lightness and love.
And suddenly, I’m thinking: I’m not fear-less. I’m: Fear-none!
I hear the rickety, single-engine aircraft land. Soon enough, the skydivers start coming down, and they rush through our waiting zone with forever changed faces.
“How was it?” I ask a young boy with a headful of crazy curls.
“OH, SHIT! AMAZING, MAN!”
He’s screaming at me, with an Aussie accent: I’m the first civilian soul to meet him on the ground, and I bet if I weren’t being strapped in right then, he would kiss me, open-mouthed, on the lips: So light! So fear-none!
The instructors arrive last: They are in red t-shirts and shorts, as if they’ve just come out to play some beach volleyball. But they’re wearing the backpack-looking things on their shoulders, while carrying the white bubbles of chutes in their arms. Badasses!
One of the instructors immediately chips off and goes to grab a bite of pizza. He devours two bites.
I look up: The badass to take me flying is heading toward us, with an already extended arm for a handshake, even though he’s uncertain which of the impatient souls on standby I must be.
I inhale. Here I go:
Not fearless — but fear-none!
(To Be Continued.)