Monday, May 27, 2019

35th Birthday Surprise

Skylar told me he had a surprise for my 35th birthday and I was exceptionally concerned about this because look. I love that man. But, his surprises are sometimes terrifying. This one was no exception.

He stuffed me into his car last week and drove me basically to the North Pole, saying every few minutes "are you exciiiitteed????" I told him I was more nervous than excited.

Then suddenly he pulled into a parking lot that had a large sign that said "SKYDIVING" on it.

I had something of an out-of-body experience when I saw it. I just started yelling "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO."

Skylar tried reasoning with me. "You can't just spring something like this on someone!" I yelled at him.

He said that he had to surprise me with this because if he had given me advance warning, I would have just been a walking anxiety attack for the days or weeks leading up to the event.


I signed up to go skydiving when I was 24. I was in my first year of law school at the time and my friend Beau and I decided to give it a try. We were scheduled to go like a month after we signed up and I had such bad anxiety that I couldn't sleep at night just anticipating the event. I truly thought I was going to die if I went skydiving. I finally called Beau and told him he needed to find someone else to go because there was no way in hell I was actually going to get myself to get onto the plane.

So, yeah. Skylar was trying to avoid that situation in surprising me.

Unfortunately, the weather was bad, so when we walked inside the place the woman at the desk told us we were going to have to reschedule for the following Saturday.

I spent the next week reading the entire internet. The internet was like "SKYDIVING ISN'T SCARY AT ALL IT'S JUST FUN DON'T BE A BABY 90-YEAR-OLDS DO THIS" and all of this advice actually helped.

Maybe its just because I'm older now and I've done a lot of scary things since 2008. Maybe it's because I don't value my life as much as I used to. I don't know what it is, but I just kind of felt calm about it all last week. It didn't seem like that big of a deal.

It didn't seem like that big of a deal when showed up on Saturday afternoon.

It didn't seem like that big of a deal when they started strapping a bunch of gear to my body.

It didn't seem like that big of a deal when they brought the tiny plane out.

It seemed like kind of a cause for worry when they started directing me to the plane having given me literally zero instruction or explanation about what would happen.

It seemed like a somewhat terrifying thing when the plane took off and the guy I would be diving with started strapping me to his body and yelling basic instruction I couldn't totally hear or understand.

It seemed like a nightmare when we basically exited the atmosphere of planet Earth and the guide yelled "WE'RE ABOUT HALFWAY THERE."

It seemed like I had committed the biggest error of my life when four or five people just started diving out of the plane and the guide started pushing me toward the open door.

Suddenly, I was hanging out of the plane, totally strapped to another person, and completely without the ability to control anything that was about to happen to me.

We hung that way for a full eternity and then, without further ado, we were free-falling through air that was so cold I was automatically added to the list of Titanic survivors.

The internet was wrong. This entire thing was TERRIFYING. We fell and fell and fell and the Earth was so far away that it didn't even look like it was getting closer for a few minutes. We were just falling and falling and falling. And falling.

Humans were not meant to have this experience. We shouldn't be doing this. This should be illegal. People should go to prison for this.

Suddenly the guy pulled the parachute and let me tell you, that is terrifying, too. All of a sudden you get jerked very hard by the sudden resistance of the parachute on your body that has basically broken the sound barrier falling to Earth.

The parachuting down to the ground took a few more minutes. It was breathtakingly beautiful.



I don't know that I have ever felt more relief in my life than I did when I finally felt the ground under me.

They took a video of the whole thing. It's kind of long and I'm too lazy to go edit it, but you can skip through it and get the gist.

Special notes: You can tell I'm becoming increasingly more freaked out every time they ask me any questions. Also, Skylar nearly laughed himself into a coma when he saw how I looked right before the jump. This video has completely destroyed my self esteem.

And pictures:

It was amazing. And I very likely will never do it again.

And now, please enjoy some Strangerville:

This time in Strangerville, woke Twitter is the worst, Meg has butt problems, and Eli commits several crimes during the most embarrassing experience of his life.
Car Dealership, by Eli McCann
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. He didn't tell you because he knew you would murder him in his sleep (rightfully so) and leave the body under the house for the gardener to take care of.

    Next time you go, you need a Go Pro or something on you so we can continue to watch you. After the guy pulled his parachute we lost you.

    After you fill out the paperwork leaving me Casper.

    1. Is it just me, or was he planning on getting more shots, but his cords tangled and he had to straighten everything out because he wasn't getting enough resistance in his parachute because it wasn't completely unfurled?

  2. When I went skydiving a few years ago, my guy had a GoPro attached to his wrist that took video and pictures the whole time. It was awesome, and resulted in some very flattering up-shots of my chin(s). Surprisingly, the only time I felt at all nervous about my decision was when we started scooting toward the open door (after I had just watched one of my friends fall out of it, because that's what you do. You fall, you don't jump or dive. #falseadvertising). There was about 10 seconds of "WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?!" (sorry, Cathie, for my profanity) before we fell out of the plane, and then I immediately thought, "I want to do this again!"

    Your skydiving view was much more spectacular than my "farms of northern Virginia" view since you had the added bonus of those mountains!

  3. What a cool gift! Best he didn’t tell you for sure, but then you still had a week to freak out about it! Haha. Glad you got to do it.

    My friend went to the Air Force Academy after high school. Amazing guy and you should definitely vote for him if he ever runs for president, but I can’t tell you his name because his first jump out of a plane, it was so bad the videographers (ground and air) were freaking out and swearing and by the time he got to the ground he had wet his pants and was crying. I don’t think I’ll ever try it.

    1. Lol that took a twisted turn at the end lol

  4. That video is truly adorable.

  5. A couple of things...

    1) Thanks for doing this so I can watch it from the comfort of my couch and never have to do it myself.

    2) Have you already written Skylar into your will? Why do I ask? Oh, no reason, just wondering...

    3) Skylar's jump partner totally looks stoned. Sorry, it had to be said.

    I'm glad you didn't die. Don't do that again.

  6. How much to get Meg to recap that video with screenshots for the beehive?

  7. For my 35th birthday last weekend my husband took me to ride Bird scooters and I ALMOST DIED so I pretty much had the same experience as you. As the youths zipped past me confidently I came to realize that I feel exactly as old as 35 sounded when I was in high school.

  8. Thank you for confirming that I never ever ever want to exit a plane that isn't parked firmly on solid ground.

  9. Ok watching the video makes me think that being a skydive videographer is the worst, most terrifying job in the world. I mean here you are, plummeting to your death, and the whole time instead of focusing on NOT DYING you are like “Oh crap people are paying me to do a job here! SMILE EVERYONE I AM TAKING YOUR PICTURE FOR MONEY AND HOPEFULLY I WON’T DIE IN THE PROCESS!!” Yikes.

    I also laughed right before you jumped. It was like watching someone try to take a cat into a bathtub, where the cat is clinging to anything to stop itself from being put in the water, only less feral.

  10. You are very brave. I would have to be: 1) paid a huge sum of money, 2) be sedated, and/or 3) the plane would have to be going down. Kudos to you for doing it - you can and did do a major hard thing. Also happy that the camera guy made it down okay - it looked a little dicey there for a few minutes. In case you haven't seen it, you can watch James Corden having a similar experience skydiving (with Tom Cruise).

  11. Bahaha! I threw up on the guy I was strapped to halfway to earth. It’s one of my favorite party stories. I actually loved the experience overall. My backpack-jumpmate didn’t so much.

  12. I tend to enjoy thrill seeking activities...driving motorcycles fast through canyons, rock climbing, deep water cliff jumping, rollercoasters, ziplining, bungee jumping, etc. I always wanted to skydive, and I swore by the time I turned 40 next month I would do it. I don't know what happened but when I read this post I realized that at some point in the last year I've changed my mind. Last year at this time I would have been jealous and now you couldn't pay me enough to get in that tiny plane. Better you than me my friend.

  13. I had a full in panic attack watching the videographer trying to fix his parachute. I'll just have to continue to live vicariously through you! Happy Birthday Eli!!

  14. I would have divorced my husband if he gave that to me as a "gift." I also would have screamed so many profanities that no one in Utah would have been able to go to heaven.

  15. no no no no..... i could never ever do this!!

  16. Awesome! When I went, especially after getting on the TINY plane (literally fit the pilot, 2 customers and 2 employee jumpers and we were all in each others' laps) I kept thinking I will definitely only do this once. Then we jumped and it was incredible. Then the shoot came out and I decided I wanted to do this in every conceivable landscape. I did it in the middle of Nebraska (cornfields) and can't wait to do it with a mountainscape or water. Happy Birthday! I'm glad you got dragged into a once in a lifetime activity by the man you love!

  17. I really, REALLY enjoyed the video. Your face before the jump was so perfect having read the blog up to that point. I cannot stop laughing. Thank you Skylar!

  18. I went skydiving with my brother waaaaaaaaaaay back in the day. We went to a 4 hour training session before going up and we were not attached to anyone. We had to pass certain criteria ON THE WAY DOWN (practice touch test, circle of awareness, etc.). I just stared at the people when they asked me to show them like, "I'm falling to earth and you are asking me things????? Are you crazy???" Eventually I did them and they let go of my suit and I had to pull my own parachute and glide down with no help. I landed (not very gracefully) and my first words were "Welp. Never gonna do that again!" And I haven't.

  19. I just about had a panic attack watching the video. Definitely not for me!