I see only steps. My chest is heaving and my breath shakes, hyperventilating at a rapid pace. Ten more steps, move girl move! My legs protest, refusing to listen to the signals my brain sends commanding them to lift and proceed forward. A rough hand reaches down pulling me up a little higher. Five more steps, I see the top. A last kick of adrenalin propels me to the pinnacle. I have made it.
I secure the florescent life vest the guide has provided for me. Now I am pacing. I have made the ascent, surely what I would have assumed to be the most taxing, at least physically. But now looking over the edge to my first jump acrophobia sets in and the glossy water below paralyzes me.
Packing my bags at eleven years old I was about to make the first vital transition of my life. I was leaving my mother. My parents had been divorced for years, both on non-speaking terms leaving me as their monkey in the middle pulled this way and that, forever confused as to where the truth lied. My father had offered me private school education and a stronger sense of family unity with my stepmother and half-brother. Nonetheless I felt as if I had abandoned the woman who brought me into the world. It was an upsetting choice for me to decide and once I had, I knew it would be the last time I’d pack the suitcases. I had to jump, I had to take that risk, defy the fear and let go…
Swimming through the turquoise fresh water a sense of relief filtered throughout my body relaxing built up tension in my muscles. Scenery drifted by as I turned over on my back to float. The dense greens of the tropical forest evoked sound health. Friends of mine swam ahead led by our guide, a short smiling, portly man sporting aquatic shoes. I could hear the powerful white water gushing our over the rocks in the distance.
3… 2… 1 and takeoff. I popped the gum into my moth chewing noisily, leaning my head back and submitting to the gravity defying force. Looking out the side window exhilaration pulsed in my veins. Houses and cars became more minute by the second and soon I was in the company of clouds. My passion for traveling empowered my idea to study abroad for a year through a youth program at sixteen. Rotary international had sent me to Mexico to experience a new culture and return fluent in Spanish. This last year has been the best of my life and I am thankful that I had the nerves to surpass any trepidations and take a chance.
I’m still swimming straight ahead. The water glides through my fingers as I breast stroke the distance. The last and tallest waterfall comes into my vision ahead. I am confident yet anxious. As it approaches I feel the uncertainty. I look down to a bottomless shimmering white mist. Turning eighteen and applying to colleges I prepare myself for my last jump. I have no idea where I will land but I am positive now that with persistent work ethic and willpower I will land in the right place. Gazing down below I will now take my last and final leap.