The highest… that means there’s nothing further, nothing more. It’s the final destination; the end of the journey where you can say “After I do this, I don’t need to do it anymore.” I’ve never been or done the _____est of anything, and on this warm winter day in Macau, I was going to add my name to a very short list.
How do you prepare for such an extreme experience? Visualization? No, my brain couldn’t fathom anything that high. Recalling my first bungee jump? Shit, that part of my memory is a complete fuzz. Watching other people do it? Man, those people are nuts! Out of ideas, I accepted my fate that I was going to creep onto that ledge a scared and witless human being. It wasn’t until when my friend said: “Dude, Anthony Bourdain did this. You got it.” that I felt my first hint of resolve.
59… 60… 61
“My, that’s quite a view”
Things were starting to feel real now. The staff guided me through the paperwork, gave me a t-shirt, and told me to get ready. Was that apathy or pity in their eyes? I changed into what was possibly my death attire, emptied my pockets, and prepared to get strapped up.
“So you’re going to pull this red cord by your left knee once you rebound. This will release your ankle straps and bring you to a sitting position.”
Wait, what? I have instructions to follow? You expect me to be cognizant in the middle of plunging 764 feet?
Tied up and strapped in, I shimmied over to the ledge.
“Just get a little closer to the edge… it’s going to feel a bit heavy”
What’s going to feel heavy…? OH FUCK! You mean this 500 feet of bungee cord that’s attached to my ankles is dangling in empty space beneath me?!
“Say hi to the camera!”
Oh hey! What up! I’m not trying to get dragged to my death or anything…
“Ok, here we go! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Bye bye”
It’s like that first breathless plunge off a steep rollercoaster drop. Your brain shuts down while your body tries its best to understand this incredibly unnatural feeling. It’s gonna stop any moment now. I’m going to stop falling, you think. But you don’t. There’s so much space left…
Somehow, for a reason unknown to me, this uncomfortable squeeze on my being suddenly dissipates. What was once a suffocating contraction now feels like clear expansion. I see the landing pad. I’m aware of my surroundings. I feel my body flying (or falling) through space. It was like breaking through cloud cover and seeing clear skies for the first time. I fell the rest of the way with a big goofy grin.
The rebound was unnerving. Launched back halfway up the length of the tower, I remembered my instructions and looked down (or up) towards my knee for the red cord. Pulling the cord just as I achieved momentary suspension 400 feet in the air, my body suddenly jolted back into right side up. FUCK! Where am I? And thus began another, completely different, fall.
Moments later, sitting in empty space with the bungee cord at full extension, I was lowered down. I had a last few seconds to savor the fact that I was the only person in the country hanging 200 feet in the air. It felt like a special, private, exclusive place. Gaining the ground was both a relief and a burden at the same time. It was like taking solace in the safety of my physical constraints. With that said however, my first few steps back on earth did feel a bit lighter, and the world around me did look a bit bigger. Something has definitely changed.
I want to go again.