(A Tame) TMI Thursday: I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend
This really doens't fall into the realm of TMI, except it is one of the more adventurous irresponsible things I've done in my life. I probably really could have gotten hurt.
My freshman year of college, I attended an uber-conservative Christian college. I mean, we're talking chapel-every-day with seat checks, prayer in the classroom, preacher's kids get discounted tuition, and a no dancing rule kind of conversative.
Perhaps boredom drove the Christ-like coeds to carry on the tradition of the bridge jump. In all honesty, I really don't even know if it was a tradition or not. I think that's what the guys told us, but maybe they just said that to get us in the car.
My memories of the event are a little hazy - I couldn't tell you exactly how high up we were, or if we were preparing to jump into a river or a lake or a stream. As I recall it, this particular bridge wasn't the type of bridge that cars use to get from one land mass to another, because it seems we had to park and then walk up some stairs to get to it, but no matter. There was this bridge, a proper bridge, with metal bars and lots of water far below it. Our task was to jump off of it.
I watched a few other people do it first. The guys cannonballed in; the girls shrieked on the way down. After I watched half a dozen people emerge from the water, pumping their fists and reveling in the sheer awesomeness of it all, I knew I was going to do it: I was going to be a jumper. Just two more guys, and then my turn would come. The two dudes did their jump, and after the splash, one head surfaced. He cheered, "Man, that was killer!" and then, silence.
Where was his jumping partner? I remember people calling out for him, but I can't even remember his name. Several people in the group stood on the bridge in a circle, holding hands and praying, while the bravest in the group jumped in to try to find the missing member of our pack. Girls were crying. I'm sure Jesus wept.
"Oh, god. I think he must have hit his head on a rock or something!"
"We have to find him! We have to find him!"
I don't remember how long the charade went on. The guy had jumped... and swam under the bridge to the other side; it was only a pratical joke to scare everyone. He was alive. He was unscathed, unlike the rest of us.
When I finally got my turn at the ledge, I said a quick prayer to the gods-or-whoever that I wouldn't really hit my head on a rock, since someone had already cried wolf. I pictured myself down there bleeding to death, my lungs filling with water.
I took a deep breath. I stepped to the edge. I jumped. I soared.
When I told my parents this story, my mother said, "You know, some parents try to instill lessons in their kids by saying, well, if they jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too? I guess I can't really use that one anymore."