I am an Island girl born in Kingston, Jamaica, currently living in South Florida which is reminiscent of my Island home with ‘better opportunities.’ Like many from the Caribbean I never learned to swim but I love the water, especially the open waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. I have always wanted to experience water activities but wouldn’t try anything but sitting on a boat or on the shoreline because of my fear of drowning. I had images of Jet Skis tipping over and me falling into the water and drowning before anyone could rescue me and other such dramatic imaginings. So when on a recent day trip to Key West my friend’s boyfriend suggested that we all go parasailing I responded with a resounding NO! In my mind that was just not an option. I could feel myself being flung from left to right and up and down like a roller coaster ride at the mere thought of trying it (I hate roller coasters). I could feel myself free falling from the sky, oh no, oh hell no, not me!!!!
I was happy to climb the narrow winding 88 steps to the lighthouse observatory. I was willing to step outside on the narrow balcony and do the 360 degree walk to snap my pictures, but parasailing, oh no!!! We stopped for lunch at a lovely Irish Pub and caught the Holland vs Mexico world cup soccer match in the knockout round and after my prediction that Holland would win with a 2:1 score was realized I got even happier. Might I add the gentleman kept saying quietly, periodically throughout the day that we were going parasailing. As we left the pub and happily strolled down Duval St. eating ice cream Mr. Instigator drew to a sudden halt by a kiosk with a quirky Englishman to inquire about his parasailing ambitions for us. He kept trying to convince us to go until the Englishman got a bit fed up and told us to get out s#*t together. At that point I looked at my friend and a silent message was relayed I nodded and we said yes we would go. After that commitment it was on.
Fast forward to the boat. We got on the boat with a very nice couple who chatted and joked with us. My friend and I decided to go up first much to Mr. Instigator’s shock. We were booked on a tandem ‘ride and what happened next was surreal. We put on our life vests, were strapped in the harness and the parachute was opened and in no time we were floating skyward. The take-off was so smooth and quick that before I knew it the boat looked like a toy and the passengers like miniatures of themselves. The aerial view of the blue/green colors of the Gulf of Mexico was breath-taking. The view of the coast was magnificent. I could see the crew and our friends on the boat waiving at us and I waived back, sometimes with both hands which was amazing considering before I left the boat I held on the straps that connected the parachute to the harness for dear life. Then I realized that we could hear each other speak without shouting and we happily chatted and laughed about how much fun it was. I felt free, energized, ecstatic and happy. I got an adrenaline rush that was like nothing I had ever felt. Fear was a non-existent memory. Before we went up the crew asked if we wanted to get wet and we said just our feet. On our way down Cap’n Morgan dunked our feet/legs warm turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico, it was fantastic!!! The pictures the crew member took of us with her telephoto lens shows both of us grinning and happy.
The lesson I took away from this experience is to never assume how anything feels without first trying it. I keep thinking about how amazing I felt floating in the sky and looking down on the stunning view of the southernmost tip of the great USA. Now I can’t wait to conquer another fear. Thank you V Anthony Haynes for encouraging me to jump out of that self-made box.