My original plan upon arrival in New Zealand was to check into the hostel, buy a ticket for the Sky Tower, and jump off of it.
I even booked my hostel right next to the Sky Tower so I wouldn’t get lost.
People didn’t think I could survived this trip, and I wanted to make a statement, start bold and do something that evoked adrenaline and proved I could do whatever I wanted.
I, instead, caught the flu and threw up all over the city center.
Once I finally got myself to a bed and slept off the sickness, I tackled New Zealand with a new resolve.
We got this, I told myself. You’ve had some hiccups, but you knew that would happen. It’s not exciting if it goes as planned, right? You wouldn’t have any stories to write. You didn’t know what would happen, but you knew something would happen. Today is a new day, and it can’t all be that bad.
Now, let’s go jump off something.
Though I stand at six-and-a-half feet tall, heights have always been one of my biggest fears. (And, arguably, when people think it’s weird I’m afraid of heights because I’m so tall, I gently remind them, “The ground is a lot further away from my eyes than yours at any given moment.”)
In coming to New Zealand, I chose to face all of my fears. My comfort zone was too comfortable, and I needed to accomplish things I’d previously considered impossible.
That, in turn, included jumping off of everything I possibly could.
Unfamiliar with the metric system of measurement, 192 meters sounded like nothing to someone versed in the imperial.
Upon initial check-in and weight, I suited up in the proper gear and followed the guide to the elevator.
I wish I’d known it had a glass bottom before getting into it.
The ground sinks as you’re rocketed 53 floors into the air. All the while you get a nice, clear view of the elevator shaft.
As I watched the ground disappear, I couldn’t help but wonder when it would stop.
Wow, this is really high…
Okay, seriously, how far are we going to go?
The elevator shaft turned into a tunnel-visioned kaleidoscope of a never-ending drop as we ascended.
When I reached the top, I thought I’d reverted to my flu-like state as the queasiness returned. I stared out the window, looked at the ground, and for the second time in the two days I’d been in New Zealand, questioned my reasonings for putting myself through this.
I walked into the small room where the cords lived and the jump operator strapped me into my fate.
Once deemed safe, the girl who helped me opened the door and led me out to the edge.
A fresh gust of wind challenged my balance, and I asked, “What am I doing?” as I looked over.
“Having the best time of your life,” she responded as she situated a camera to my helmet. “Say hello.”
After we had recorded my introductory video, I asked, “Have you done this before?”
“Only about a hundred times. Ready? Three, two —”
My breath caught in my throat.
Nothing solid rested under my feet anymore. The air held me up and dragged me down at the same time as the ground rushed at me.
As soon as I thought I would die, I caught a glimpse of my view and relaxed. The free fall brought the liberation I craved, and I let go of the worries that weighed me down.
The fall might have only lasted eleven seconds, but my life in chains died as my former bonds released.
Now, I controlled every aspect of my life.
Who knew jumping off the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere would make me feel more alive than ever?
I only had one second to worry about hitting the ground before the ropes stopped and yanked me back.
Like many other things on this trip thus far, the landing was anything but graceful.
My roommate at the time took a video of me doing the jump. After I caught my breath and freed myself of the wires, I watched it. Because it turned out so well, I opted out of purchasing the video they’d recorded for me.
I went back to my hostel to upload it, but when I connected my camera, I found no video.
Where it went, I will never know, but with its disappearance came the first lesson learned in a foreign country:
Always, no matter what, even if you think it’s expensive, buy the video as proof you did it.