Rollercoaster Weekend: Gala, Skydiving, Memorial Service, Motutapu
On living in Auckland: I was talking with a friend the other day (thanks, Alice!) about my blog and took some time to reflect on the whole experience of writing about and trying to explain what my day to day life is like here. It is easy to talk about things like my spring break trip, but how do I describe what it feels like to live in Auckland? On the surface everything seems really simple and beautiful (VERY beautiful) but there is a strange kind of complexity that is just under the surface that I can’t quite seem to describe... maybe it's because I don’t quite understand it yet myself. I think a good metaphor for what it’s like to live here is the language, or even more simply, the way things are named: Rangitoto, Queen Street, Waiheke, New Market, Piha, Mission Bay, Ponsonby, the Viaduct, Sky Tower. There is a constant mingling of the familiar and foreign, of Maori and Pakeha (a person living in New Zealand who is originally from Europe) and the Kiwi (born in New Zealand but not Maori) identities.
As always, the boys were pretty helpless and the girls were frantic. Carlee painted our nails and Brianne did everyone’s hair (but not mine, I like keeping things simple). Needless to say, the whole crew dressed to impress and all the couples looked wonderful together. I went to the dance with my camera as a date and thoroughly enjoyed spending my evening split between the dance floor and behind the lens. There was a professional photographer there who was a cheeky-monkey and caught me in the act! It’s actually a really funny picture of me all dressed up with my camera in front of my face—kind of ironic actually. Anyway, it was really nice seeing my non-Loyola friends in a setting other than class or walking around the halls in our p.js. We took some floor photos, and while not everyone is there, it is a great memento of a really fun night. The dance ended at midnight and just about everyone went out to town to continue celebrating. But I decided to call it a night since I had a very big day ahead of me! I split a cab home with some friends who were going back to Huia to change first and shortly went to bed.
Well, Saturday was the day. I asked Garvin at the ball if he wanted me to wake him up in the morning since he was planning on going out with the group for a little bit. He said that it wasn’t necessary but if I wanted to I could. Yeah, ok. I made a mental note to give his door a knock when I woke up. And thank God I did! The whole ordeal was quite ridiculous; I knocked on his door 3 separate times and on the third time with no answer I just went on in and woke him up, and of course, he went back to sleep. Now I love Garv, but when I went into his room for the 3rd time and he was still sleeping I nearly took his head off. We were supposed to be at the Sky Tower to be picked up by 8am. It’s a solid 20 minute walk. We left Huia at 8:10. Luckily I was able to call them to let them know we were coming and a little late. Well, long story short—remind me and I’ll tell you the whole thing, it’s hysterical (now)—we almost missed the van and I had to wave it down as it drove down the street right as we arrived at Sky Tower. After that whole ordeal, jumping out of a plane was the easiest part of the day!
It took about an hour to get to the skydiving location—just the right amount of time for a nice refreshing nap we both desperately needed. My bus-mates and I checked in, signed our lives away, met our dive-masters (mine’s name was Emily too, but she goes by Lotti) and got into our flight suits. One of my friends (cough couch Ryan…) who knew I was jumping did request that I wear my dress from the ball under the suit, which I did not and I am really glad I didn’t! While we were suiting up the dive masters distributed gloves, which a graciously turned down. To which Lotti told me that it was -6 degrees at elevation! Now I still didn’t wear the gloves but I was immediately glad I was wearing all my layers and not a strapless dress.... They split us up into 2 groups and Garv and I were in the second one. After group 1 did their jumps (and absolutely raved about it) it started to rain so group 2 was grounded until the clouds passed. But finally our turn came!
Gliding through the air at 5000 feet was surreal. My heart stopped frantically beating and I was able to calm down a little. It was actually really relaxing. Lotti loosened the connection between our harnesses a little so we would be more comfortable and I was able to take off my goggles. The view was incredible. I could see everything, and it was tiny. You know that feeling when you look up at the stars on a really clear night and you feel small? Well, for the first time ever, I felt like I was the star looking down on the world. We did some fun acrobatics in the air, twirling and spinning, and took a lot of pictures. As we got lower we could see that we would be coming in over a herd of cows. I wondered if our presence would frighten them, but if they noticed us they certainly didn’t care. After a few more corkscrew maneuvers, it was time to land.
We got lined up on the grass runway and came in for a smooth landing. All I had to do was pick my feet up and we slid right in on our bums. I had a huge smile on my face that lasted the whole way home. I gave Lotti a huge hug and made my way back to the waiting area so I could watch Garv. His descent looked a lot like mine felt. I was excited to see what his reaction was since he hates heights so much. When he finally landed and came over to me he gave me a giant hug and said that he couldn’t even remember why he was afraid because it was so amazing. We got out of our flight suits and I picked up my photos and Garv got his DVD and just as fast as we had gotten there we were leaving. I just kept saying to myself over and over, “I just jumped out of an airplane!”
It was a tough night, and I didn’t sleep much, but I was really looking forward to spending the next day at Motutapu doing service. Never underestimate the therapeutic power of working with your hands, especially with good people.