NZ Adventure Chapter 8: Don't Overthink It
“So you like Panic! At the Disco?” asked the tall man strapping my legs together as I sat on a platform on Kawarau Bridge- known as the birthplace of bungy jumping- overlooking the turquoise water 43 meters (about 141 feet) below.
“Yeah” I responded, glancing down at my Panic! At the Disco T-shirt, as he made the straps even tighter, getting ready to lead me to my uncertain death.
“I like that album…uh…Welcome to the Black Parade” he added.
“Oh…uh… that’s the wrong band. That’s My Chemical Romance” I said, chuckling a little bit as he grimaced and said, “Oh you’re right… I hope that wasn’t on the video” (you can see it on the video actually which is great)
He then told me to stand and I waddled, my legs strapped together with a towel between my ankles, to the edge of the platform. As I inched my way forward (painfully slowly) I felt like a prisoner being told to walk the plank. I was then told to wave to the cameras that were undoubtedly catching my every nervous facial expression as I told myself not to overthink it. To just jump.
“Ok you’re going to jump on 1”
“I’m counting down from three”
“Ok great” don’t think about it…don’t think about it…
“1” …holy fuck I’m going to die
As I plummeted to the startlingly blue water below I screamed (completely involuntarily) and gave myself completely over to the feeling of falling- of losing control in the best way. You see, the thing about jumping off a bridge, even if you’re attached to a bungy cord, is that once you’ve made the jump there’s no backing out of that decision.
Why wait for your friends to jump off a bridge?
From a spectator’s viewpoint, the falling part doesn’t look so dramatic. It looks steady and calculated right up until the bungy cord snaps the person falling back up into the air and down again like a rag doll. But when you’re the one falling, none of it seems steady. When gravity first claims you as her own you feel like you actually might die but the freedom of the moment makes you feel like it would actually still be worth it.
And then the cord snaps you back up and you plummet again but this time the rocks seem much closer and you scream louder. And then you’re swaying upside down as you’re lowered into a boat (“look at your feet” they tell you) and away you go, your heat beating fast and stuffed in your throat for the rest of the day.