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The morning sky is overcast and grey, but despite the drop in temperature, I still feel sweaty in my bright orange jumpsuit and helmet. I anxiously review the sequence of the dive flow in my head – “exit, get stable, find Aaron…” – when the gust from the door opening shatters my train of thought.
“Let’s check the spot, Ann!” Aaron shouts with a wave of his hand.
I duck-walk my way to the edge of the door, knowing that if we’re in the correct spot, the plane will be directly over a perpendicular runway. I know what to do; I quickly kneel down with my head out the door, my hair blowing all around me, and the buzz of the plane screaming in my ears. The thought of a parachute strapped to my back gives me a sense of security as I fight back waves of fear bellowing from my stomach. The airstream is fierce, but its power is becoming familiar and even peaceful. I quickly find Joe’s house, which looks like a lego structure from up here. The sapphire blue quarry on the edge of town glistens in the foreground like a beautiful jewel in the sand.
I don’t see it at first. My instructor Aaron has to literally stick his arm out to grab my attention. He points to the high school soccer fields. My heart jumps into my throat.
“Is that for me..?”
The biggest mass of blue tarps I have ever seen, decorated with big white block lettering, is laid out on the field. The letters are the size of houses. It finally registers what is really happening as I read the words again: “Will you marry me?”
It was just six months before, on Christmas Day 2009, that Joe had handed me a package that would forever change my life. Underneath sheets of green and red tissue paper was a single piece of paper with a hand drawn picture of me and Joe, each of us with a parachute floating through a colorful sky. Below was a short note describing in more detail his gift to me.
Joe had paid for us to take the Advanced Free Fall (AFF) course to become licensed skydivers. I had done a tandem skydive a couple years before, but I’d never jumped on my own. As soon as spring came along, I’d be taking my first plunge from an airplane 15,000 feet in the air. I was speechless with excitement.
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