Debut Novel Coming Soon

Two Truths & a Lie

I worked for the United States Post Office for precisely the amount of time I was in orientation/training and one of the things I remember most, was an icebreaker game we played right before we learned how to sort mail.

The instructions: tell my fellow new hires two true things and one lie about myself. The class would guess which was the lie. I would then confess the lie, and my instructor and fellow mail carriers to be, would know me as a person.

As is usually the case, the lies told more about each participant than the truths. Sometimes the lie was a confession of a childhood dream or a small secret desire. The lies were delivered as if the truth would be hilarious: haha, wouldn’t it be funny if I had flown to space, been a clown, got a tattoo, traveled outside the country, or skydived?

When my turn came, I chose to respond with lies stolen from everyone else. Were their preposterous lies really my truths? I’ll never tell the truth.

All this to say, this blog is mostly true. It’s contents won’t be three statements, but rather, one story told in three segments. Decide amongst yourselves where the lies lay. Fun! Fun!

I longed to skydive, once.

I used to be fearless. When I was a child, my family’s nickname for me was “wild child”. I would ride on motorcycles with my father. I would climb trees, swim in creeks, pick up crawdads by their squiggly shells and play impromptu hide and seek games in Walmarts without telling anyone. In one of my early childhood homes, I would slide down the banister as if I would never fall. My parents tried to tame me, but wild children run with wolves—we can’t be helped.

As a teen, I was racing four-wheelers and dreaming of driving fast cars. My father was a mechanic raised in the muscle car era. He learned motors so him and his friends could drag race on the straight stretches of rural central Ohio. It is in my blood. I am destined for pushing the limits of a small town upbringing. The world was made for gathering good stories like they were pennies, scattered on the streets, heads up (for good luck.)

I talked about skydiving relentlessly. My mother would have none of it, of course. I could have paid my own way but I was a people (mom) pleaser. So I scratched it off my list of things to do.

Alas, time passed. I graduated high school and started making other plans for my future. I could get an education, a husband, and maybe travel abroad. I forgot about skydiving entirely.

And then, things got interesting. On Christmas morning, at the ripe age of 20, my mother gave me a gift certificate to skydive.

I had forgotten about skydiving, reader. I had made plans for my future to such an extent, that I valued my life. I wanted death far from me. I had photographs to take, degrees to earn, men to marry, and countries to see. But all along, my mother was planning her best gift ever. Merry Christmas, child, here is your expedited death certificate.

I go skydiving

I put if off as long as I can. Summer nearly passes by and just before autumn takes hold, my mother and father take me to Ohio to a small airstrip that regularly takes willing and paying customers up into the air and pushes them out of planes. I tell myself, my mother has really gone out on a limb to put aside her fears and put my teenage desires before her own. My father is a little nervous for me, but ultimately prideful and excited to brag about his daughter, the dare devil.

The dare devil in me is chained and gagged in the dark recesses of my mind, laughing tears of irony.

For everyone else’s sake, I am pretending this is the greatest day of my life. I might puke, but dammit, mom and dad are going to believe that I want this. They can never know that I changed my mind. That, I want to live. I want to finish the college degree I’ll never use and marry the wrong man the first time and get lost in Rome, Ireland, England. I no longer want to travel vertically at the speed of gravity. I want to travel horizontally, with the comfort of aeronautical engineering.

But it’s too late. I am slipping one leg and then the next into a harness. I am slipping my arms through straps I don’t understand. I am being told how to hold my body as I fall [plummet] to the earth. I am being told DON’T PANIC. I am a whale hoping the big round earth will be my friend.

I will be tethered to a man named Steve who has the parachute attached to him. Steve is an experienced skydiver, who will deploy our [his] parachute and guide us both safely to the ground. This just so happens to be the same name as my father.

My parents opt for the add on service of filming my descent. They want to relive their daughter’s near death experience. They want to show their friends their daughters best [last] day of her underdeveloped life. I am a bowl of petunias.

I will jump from a small engine plane. There are a few other patrons in the plane, with expert plummeteers attached to them. When it is my turn, Steve straps himself to me, big spoon style. The man who promises to save my life, is out of sight but right in my ear. The woman with the camera [my paparazzi] stands next to me. I am told to step out of the plane when I’m ready.

Going back is not an option. My life doesn’t continue if I stay on the plane and return to my parents on the ground. To my young adult mind who can’t even drink alcohol, it is quite literally, now or never. I am facing some form of death both directions.

I step into the empty sky without a glance towards my feet. As we are *Tom Petty’s “Freefallin”*, the first thing I notice is, I can’t breathe. The air is moving so fast that it’s taking my breath away.

When the woman with the camera positions herself in front of me [wait. Let’s take a moment to appreciate this lovely little metaphor of a woman, falling to the fucking earth, with the sole purpose of documenting some stranger, for that strangers’ parents’ sake. wtf. anyways] she is using hand signals to encourage me to wave, or engage in some way. Woman to woman, she is telling me, ‘look I know you can’t breath, and this might be your last few seconds of life, but really, darling, do something for the camera. Wouldn’t you like to appear fun-loving in the videos they play at your funeral?’

Inexplicably, I dance like Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading.*

*Brad Pitt dies in the end.

I sail through the sky over Butter Jesus.

If you know don’t what Butter Jesus is, there is a church in Southern Ohio that sits on the side of the highway. With such a prime location, of course it’s only good marketing to build something grand to attract and save souls. How about a 62 ft statue of our Lord and Savior, from the waist up, made of [what appeared to be] butter. He was also nicknamed Touchdown Jesus, because he held his hands high, arms straight towards the sky.

When my (Steve’s) parachute deploys, it is sudden and harsh. I feel as though the left hand of God has body slapped me. The motion feels specifically like being called a fucking idiot. It has some serious bite, you know?

The ensuing descent however, is peaceful. I swear to god, gently gliding toward the earth with a parachute above you, and an expert pulling the strings, and your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ looking up at you with his arms outstretched, as if to catch you, turns out to be every girl’s dream. It’s a traumatic experience getting there, but once you’re there…well shit, I guess it’s heaven on earth. From the highest and most unimpeded vantage point, I can see the land where my parents grew up. It all seems so small and insignificant. There is so much sky, for so long, I start to wonder if we have drifted around the world already.

The earth slowly gets bigger and closer. All of a sudden, we are coming in hot. I must reconcile with the fact that my butt will be the first thing that touches earth and I am happy for it. I promise my backside I will never ask it to leave the ground again. My parents collect their DVD of my dancing and not breathing, and we head to my father’s parents house to milk this story for all it’s worth.

My father jokes, that if I can do it, maybe he can do it too. My mother is listening and a year later, gives my father and I another skydiving gift certificate. This time, I will have the opportunity to jump without a Steve. I will have my own parachute, and it will be deployed by the string still attached to the plane. She is really on a roll with this big-gesture gift-giving routine. Really throwing caution to the wind.

My father never used his certificate.

I never used my gift certificate either, because, dammit I did the thing once. Doing it twice, without Steve, is lunacy. There is still a small part of me that would step out of that plane again, but I will never be alone again. If my certificate is still good, and a good friend or Josh [unlikely] wanted to skydive, I’d do it with them. I would consider one more date with Butter Jesus in my future.*

*Butter Jesus was struck by lightning in 2010, and is now gone.

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