It was on my bucket list – but could I do it? I did know that I couldn’t imagine anything more thrilling than jumping out of a plane into the great blue beyond. So, one evening after I’d had a glass of wine, I opened the offer in my inbox. Before I could rethink it – I had purchased a juicy new Groupon for tandem skydiving in the wilds of Millinocket!

My husband was not thrilled. Our daughter looked at me in horror (at age 14 she was horrified at having parents at all). But I said, “I’m going to Millinocket. If you don’t want to come, fine, I’ll go by myself.”

The launch month arrived. I realized I’d have to spend the night up there prior to the 7:30 liftoff. The family had decided by then to accompany me after all, along with our dog. I think they were worried they’d never see me alive again. Happily, I’d be able to house us all at a semi-campground conveniently located on the company premises. We hit the road.

A lesson learned that night: Those who are into skydiving largely fall into one group – 20-something guys who like to make bonfires in the middle of camp, get wildly drunk and sing karaoke. They finally stopped at 3 a.m. But nobody slept.

On our drive out to the airfield, we began to pass rows after row of little airplanes – essentially, tin cans with wings. These were expected to get us up high enough to launch? Huh. The reality of this adventure was starting to sink in.

But I felt much relieved while observing our tandem dive-mates. These two guys demanded absolute quiet as they methodically packed each other’s chutes. No hot dog corner-cutting here. And lucky me – I was going to be hooked onto the cute Australian dude in the motley printed sky suit. Things were looking up.

And away! We took off into a perfect September sky. The engine may have been small, but it was deafening. I peeled my eyes from the window to take in the interior. Our tin can conveyance sported random patches of zebra-print duct tape. Huh. These were holding together … what, exactly? Before I could ask, the pilot yelled that we were at altitude.

A door slid open. A blast of frigid air hit me. I yelled to Motley. “How many people change their minds at this point?” He smiled. “About 50 percent.” Huh. Well. I’d paid my money and come this far. No turning back now. He hooked us together, we put our feet on a skinny little step, counted to three and launched.

Unforgettable. Stunning. Katahdin and her surrounding pastures spread out below us, lush, green and beautiful. OK, so my inner ear screamed in pain during free fall and the experience left me with a pesky hearing issue,  but no regrets.

Because these days, when asked to share something surprising about myself, I have a story.

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