I had planned on blogging on vacation. Actually, I had planned on writing as well. (Yes, working on “that novel,” I’ve been writing.) But given the events that immediately preceeded my departure, I was exhausted the whole time. I ended up going to bed at about 9:30 every night except for one. I laid around a lot in the mornings, even when I woke up early, unable to peel myself out of bed, or off of the lounge chair. It probably wasn’t helping that I was downing daquiri after daquiri, but The Mister kept putting them in front of me.
Before I left on vacation I was worried that I’d spend the bulk of my time in Jamaica thinking about work. That was before the big Conversation three days before we left, and Rocky the Dog’s surgery two days before we left. Left with only one day to transition, I spent much of the time the first 36 hours just trying to adjust to worrying from afar. Fake lazy rivers, frozen alcoholic drinks and sunshine helped, but my fears always seemed just behind me, around a corner I couldn’t face, but not for lack of trying.
On Tuesday, although I told The Mister we’d be doing nothing for the first 48 hours, we took an excursion to Negril. We stopped at the most packed Margaritaville along the way just in time for me to not understand that the local to the side of the privately owned Jimmy Buffett beach was not selling the beach towels he was holding, but something more calming and herbal. We rode in a bus full of idiots, mostly American, who complained about everything and were concerned with nothing but alcohol. We passed through scenes of some of the worst poverty I’ve ever personally witnessed next to some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever personally witnessed.
Then we got to Rick’s. The whole premise of Rick’s is that it’s some hippie-owned (I believe) establishment on the cliff-ridden side of Jamaica that prides itself on a great sunset vantage point as well as the ability to not only watch people dive off of said cliffs, but the opportunity for every tourist to jump as well. They have multiple warnings posted, disclaiming liability while their staff encourage braveness and boldness. As I sat there, still exhausted and adjusting, The Mister took umpteen pictures of rocks and boats. My eyes were focused on the many tourists jumping from the cliffs (they have steps and platforms built into the rock–if that’s not encouragement right there, I don’t know what is).
One by one, people would throw fear aside and jump, usually feet first, into the sapphire and turquoise waters below. And one by one, I’d watch them, thinking that I wish I were one of “those” people. You know “those” people–people who do things like eat exotic foods, take eco-tourism trips and, well, jump off of cliffs into the ocean. I’ve never been one of those people. Ever. I pride myself on stable predictability because I like it. Yet no matter how much I crave it, the world has done nothing but throw my orbit off for the past six months or so. I keep readjusting, hoping a simple maneuver here or there will correct the unforseen problem. It never does. In fact, at this point, I’m not so sure I haven’t changed orbits altogether.
I looked at The Mister and grinned. “I think I’m going to jump,” I said.
“You won’t jump,” he replied, not even looking away from his photographic goals.
“You never do. You say you’re going to do these things and then you chicken out.” He kept snapping inane photos.
“Since when?” I asked, incredibly irritated by the fact that not only was this insulting, but it was correct.
“Since always,” he replied. “Plus, you heard the tour guide–the closest hospital is an hour away,” he said. He was right. All signs pointed towards me not jumping. I am, of course, the Perfectly Cursed girl. If there’s an accident to be had, I make a show out of it. And judging by the rough and narrow roads that led us to that point, an hour was a light estimate.
“But I think I should jump,” I said. I had thought this through as much as I was going to. Although I had only seen one bigger person jump, and he wasn’t as big as me, I figured the heft might actually help me somehow. More cushion for the pushing, perhaps. And although I was accident prone, I had jumped into water before. And no one I saw said it hurt or was unpleasant.
“Whatever,” he said.
I sat there for a moment, looking at the waning sun. Time was running short. Once the sun fell behind the last horizon line, the bus would be leaving and I’d have to be on it, either injured, battered and bruised or regretful. And I could fix injured, battered or bruised. Regretful would take more maneuvering.
So I stood up, started stripping down to my bathing suit, and took off my shoes and glasses, handing them to The Mister. I instructed him to take a picture, because no one would believe me. He shook his head.
I stepped to where the platforms were–one about ten feet higher than the other, but both equally as challenging. In all honesty, the only thing different about the lower one was the psychological factor. I talked briefly to a woman who did it a few minutes before and gave me a few tips. One of the professional divers–you know the ones that don’t at all encourage you to jump–gave me his advice. I asked him if anyone as big as me had done this before. He said it happened all the time.
The lady jumped again first. Once she hit the water, I knew that it was either time to jump or get on the bus dry and regretful. Slowly, I stepped to the edge, the small tiles having been rearranged by time and fearful tourists like me. And then I held my nose, unable to go underwater without having issues if I don’t do so, and I pushed off.
The air rushed by me, and my eyes were clenched for dear life. About half way down, I picked up speed and my stomach rose into my chest, reminding me of the taste of my Cheeseburger in Paradise from earlier that afternoon.
But I still didn’t fret.
I hit the water with amazing speed and rolled under myself, coming right back up, like The Little Mermaid out of the sea.
The pressure of the water and the wind caused me to let go of my nose, and my sinsuses and ears were full of salt water. I coughed it up, and the woman who had encouraged me up top, waited for me at the ladder, making sure I was okay. Though it took a good half hour to feel normal again, I did eventually regain my composure. I waved The Mister down to the lower platform where I was trying to empty my head of the ocean.
I turned to The Mister, asked him if he got pictures and he nodded. And then I smiled. “Didn’t think I’d do it, huh? Thought I’d chicken out, huh?”
He just shook his head.
But I felt amazing. For many people this isn’t the biggest deal in the world. Hell, some people did it multiple times while I was there. But for me, this was a big middle finger to the daily onslaught of idiocy I’ve been facing lately. No one expected the big girl to do it. No one thought I’d even consider it, let alone go through with it. Yet there I was, at the bottom of the stairs, soaking wet, and rushing with endorphins I haven’t triggered in a very long time.
Tomorrow I return to work. At some point this week I’m going to get a frame for the pictures of me jumping off the cliff. The Mister actually got a good progression (some of which are above) and I’m eager to have them on my office wall. It’ll be helpful to know that even though I’m afraid of what lies ahead, I can jump and make it back to the surface. I’ve done it at least once.
No one usually believes me when I start things like that. But the thing is that even when I’m at my most drained and even when I’m the most beat down, I end up surprising everyone but myself. I never doubted that I’d do it. I never doubted that I’d use the term “cut the games,” at my law school commencement. I never doubted that I’d tell The Mister when we started dating to start taking care of his allergies because the cats were not going anywhere. I never doubted that I’d do a lot of things, but other people have. I don’t blame them–I’d probably make the same snap decision in their place.
Somehow I need to channel that fearlessness back into my career, where it once worked so well. I need to be ready to face the naysayers, even when what they say is logical (although much of it in that department is not right now), because they are nay saying like crazy lately. I need to be ready to step outside of what I know and what I’m comfortable with because it is the only way I’ll end up wet and exhilarated and not dry and regretful.
The closest hospital might have been an hour away from the cliff I conquered, but it was miles away from my mind. Sometimes the Perfectly Cursed Life gets a few moments of glory, even if they are followed by minutes of painful sinus issues.
And phlegm and all, each and every second of pain was worth it.
It usually is in those circmstances. Just usually, the person experiencing it isn’t me. Score one for the big girl.