Wednesday, May 6, 2015

It Felt Like Forever

I don’t remember the date or even the month, but I remember how sunny it was outside and driving an hour or so from Austin, Texas, where I was attending college. It was me, my boyfriend at the time, and his friend, driving along the Hill Country’s curving roads in an old Tahoe. Once we got to the park, the smooth paved roads disappeared, and we were left off-roading on a bumpy path.

Once we got to The Spot, we parked the car, which I thought would for sure have a flat tire, and got out into the bright sun. The Lake. There were boats and wake boarders gliding quickly on the lake below us. There was a couple lounging on a random huge rock that was so big and tall, it stuck out slightly above the water. The perfect spot to sit – right in the middle of the lake.

The three of us were above the lake, looking over a 40 foot cliff to the water below. We were there to jump.

Our friend put his towel on the grass, and before I knew it, ran off the edge of the cliff. Just. Like. That.

My ex went next, but he stopped when he got to the ledge. But, then he disappeared off the ledge in a matter of seconds.

I could hear the big splashes below, and I could see them disappearing under the water for 30 seconds or so as their bodies went deeper and deeper into the dark lake water.

It was my turn. I walked to the ledge of the cliff and looked down. Then I backed away. Then went back to the ledge. Then backed away.

I did that repeatedly, trying to get up the nerve to jump. The entire time I was there, strangers came and went. Girls holding hands and jumping in together. Boys running off the ledge and doing flips in the air.

To the left of the ledge, there was a taller ledge, about 120 feet, that was very popular. Every few minutes people would jump, creating even bigger splashes. You'd hear people cheer for the jumpers; you'd hear the jumpers screaming as they fell to the water below. Then they'd climb up the side of the cliff and jump again.

And then there was me, too afraid to make the jump.

After two hours of standing there and watching, I started to not feel very well. I don’t know what it was, but I always assumed it was a heat stroke. My vision went bad and everything was lime green.  I was carried to the car and was given Gatorade while the AC blasted on my face. After 10 minutes or so, I felt back to normal and went out into the sun again.

I knew I needed to get into the water to stay cool from the hot sun. The only way was to somehow climb down the side of the cliff or to jump.

I walked back to the ledge, let my toes dangle a little of the side of the cliff, and I jumped.

It was as if time slowed down as I was falling. It felt like forever; I remember looking around me, looking down. Being scared. And then I hit the water, and kept going deeper and deeper.

My first thought was, "Ouch! My boobs." And then the second thought, with my eyes open, was "Wow. This water is dark. How much deeper will I go? What if a fish gets me?!" And then I got more scared.

Thankfully, I didn't travel too far down and no deep-water creature snagged me. Even more luckily, I didn't hit a boulder, which was why I was so afraid to jump in the first place.

I spent the next few hours lounging around in the water, making my way to the huge rock in the middle of the lake.

I promised myself I'd never cliff dive again. I have yet to break that promise.

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