Portsmouth, NH | Durham, NH
College, Sweaty

Deep Breath

Julie and I walk through campus with our yoga mats under our arms. We find a sunny, flat spot in the grass outside of the dorm Julie lived in first semester freshman year, and we lay our mats down.
The sun is so warm. We’re wearing tank tops. It’s a Tuesday afternoon.
Jules starts playing music from her phone and lays it in the grass. “Let’s start cross-legged on our mats,” she says. She’s never led someone through a yoga class before, but it really doesn’t sound like she’s new to this. I get to be her first student. We sit cross-legged on our mats, hands resting on our knees, palmed turned up to the sky, eyes closed. Students walk to class and laugh and stand at the nearby bus stop and sip their iced coffees. Some stare openly. We are entirely aware of how goofy we look.

The music plays softly from Julie’s Spotify playlist—Kitchen Yog. She made the playlist for post-gym yoga sessions when she rolls out her mat on our kitchen floor. She’s gotten really good at kitchen yoga, actually. That’s where we got the idea for out-on-the-quad yoga. As she tells me to open my eyes and ground myself on my hands and knees, I take a deep breath.
Sometimes it feels like I’m spiraling. Shaking hands, spinning thoughts, looking out over the edge of what I know. Who am I after this? I’m not sure. Fog descends, thick and dark. I take a deep breath.
 

I found the song “We Will All Be Changed” by Seryn our freshman year. Second semester, when Jules moved in with Natalia and me, we listened to it a lot, especially on Sundays. I used to doodle the words in my stats class. Now they play as Julie cues us both into downward-facing dog.
We can shape, but can’t control
These possibilities to grow
Weeds amongst the push and pull,
Waiting on the wind to take us
 We can write with ink and pen but
We will sow with seeds instead,
Starting with, words we’ve said
We will all be changed.
There are several yoga poses that I’ve never successfully done before. Several more that I’ve convinced myself I’d never be able to do. Julie cues me into three of these poses—confidently, gently, laughing at us a little bit. She knows where I struggle and she knows where I’m strong. I listen to her steady instructions.

Hands and knees planted firmly on the mat. Table-top pose. Then I bend my other knee and—against all odds—reach back and grab my ankle. “You’ve got it, Hann!” Jules yells. “That looks so awesome!”

Next pose. A bind that makes you look like a spaghetti noodle. (I’ve never really thought of myself as the spaghetti noodle type.) I lunge, leaning forward, arms outstretched. “Now reach your left hand down,” Julie says, “and your right hand back, yes just like that…and drop your shoulder just a bit…yes!” My fingertips brushed. I dropped my shoulder even further, and interlaced my fingers completely. “Yes! That’s it!”

Sometimes it feels like I’m flying.
Open eyes, beating heart, the future at my fingertips. Who am I after this? I’m not sure. There’s a lovely thrill in that. The people I’ve found and the plan I’ve made and the smell of warm hazelnut coffee and the click of my keyboard in a quiet library room. Butterflies in my stomach, pen to paper for the next chapter. I take a deep breath.

Last one. Forearms on the mat, fingers spread wide. Heart beating fast. “Alright, now inch your feet up a little more… a little more… nice,” Julie says. “Left leg up—perfect. Think about pushing off with your right leg rather than kicking up with your left. You got this.” I inch forward, lift my leg up, and probably look pretty skeptical. “You got this,” Jules says again.

I push off, and then, I’m floating.

I bring my right leg straight up with my left. Too quickly. My weight shifts too far into my hands, my head bumps the mat, and I somersault onto the grass just as a UNH bus pulls up to the stop.
We’re laughing. We’re laughing so hard we can’t breathe.
Jules gives me a high-five, and we start brainstorming what we’ll need to start a yoga studio together. We’re sure it couldn’t be too much more than we already have.

I take a deep breath.

The sun is warm, it’s a Tuesday afternoon, and my best friend teaches me how to fly. The air smells like spring.

 

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Sweaty

Fainting Only Happens in the Movies, Probably

I think fate tapped me on the shoulder and said, hey, you should blog about yoga this week. A few things happened recently.

Julie and I got our caricatures done, as pictured above. (The guy was this close on the blog name. If only we’d switched seats.)
I made a scene in my favorite Bikram studio on Thanksgiving morning.
My mom turned to me afterwards and said, “hey, you should blog about yoga this week!”

It’s been a while since I wrote about yoga. (Check out for some old posts about back sweat and inflexibility. Sometimes I’m funny.) I’ve really missed it, actually. I could talk about yoga for hours. Jules could too. Just ask anyone we’ve ever met at a party.

But the real reason I’m writing this post is because I almost died in the Bikram studio the other day, and I’d really like to tell you about it. Other people have told me tons stories in which they faint or come close to fainting. My vision started to go out, they say, everything went black. And this does sound really scary. But, like I said, it happened to other people, so part of me couldn’t help but be like, it’s definitely not that bad. I’m way too special to faint, anyways. Fainting was just never on my radar, you know? As a child I caught a lot of colds, had a lot of anxiety about going to the movies (scary trailers did me in), and puked off of an impressive number of chairlifts, but I never passed out at the doctor’s office or anything. Fainting only happened in movies, probably.

All of these idiotic thoughts were still living in the back of my head when I walked into the Bikram studio at 7:55am on Thanksgiving morning. The room was a toasty 105 degrees, one of my favorite instructors was teaching the 8am class, and I was ready to get sweaty. And fifteen minutes into the practice, I almost fainted.

I say almost because I didn’t actually hit the ground, but I have to imagine that I was close. We were in our second set of this pose, hands-to-feet: (I look just like this, I swear)

And when I released my heels and came back up to standing, the world started fading out. It was like when you stand up too fast and see dark spots, except the dark spots didn’t go away. They got bigger, drifted around a bit, and then they turned yellow.

The world started to go dark, but the darkness didn’t fade in from the corners like it always does in Harry Potter movies when he falls off his broom or something. Shadows moved randomly everywhere I looked. I couldn’t see myself in the mirror, two feet away. I was definitely going to throw up. And even though she was standing less than ten feet away, I couldn’t hear our instructor anymore. Her voice was replaced completely by a loud ringing in my ears and a very anxious inner monologue.

I’m dying. I am definitely dying. This is it, Hann, this is how people die, in hot rooms with weird yellow vision. It’s a stroke probably, or a heart attack, or maybe shell shock. Shell shock makes the least sense, but you never know, right? It’s going to make for a strange headline in tomorrow’s newspaper for sure. But I won’t be able to see it, because I will be dead.

After a few minutes Laura looked at me and said, “Hannah, would you like to go grab a Gatorade outside? You look a little pale.” I nodded and started walking towards the door, past a sea of sweaty, blurry people. I tapped my mom on the shoulder on my way out and said something along the lines of, “heymomcanyoupleasecomewithmeIdontfeelsogood,” like all sophisticated yogis would if they knew they were dying in the middle of the yoga studio. My mom waited five minutes—she had to finish the warm-up series, after all—then came outside to check on my survival status. (She claims she would’ve come right away if I’d actually hit the floor. But I have my doubts.)

Somehow, I survived. This wasn’t the first time I’ve said that I was surprised to be alive after a Bikram practice, but it is the first time I was actually surprised to be alive after a Bikram practice. I really thought it was game over there for a second. Like, red ring of death on your Xbox and your mom said she’d never buy you another, game over. (That’s still a thing, right?) My Thanksgiving dinner tasted like sweet potatoes and second chances.

So, to all my friends who have ever told me stories about fainting, I am sorry for being such an arrogant dumbass. You never knew it, because it was in my head, but I was. And now I’ve learned my lesson. Fainting is fucking nuts.

Final note: finals are rapidly approaching. (Pun intended.) Julie and I probably aren’t sleeping until Christmas. Stay tuned.

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Sweaty

The Mono Scare

Tennis practice on Friday afternoon began like it always does—with dynamic stretching drills that make us look like morons. Our club tennis team coach has recently been watching a lot of YouTube videos by the “professionals,” and apparently the professionals are into things like running across the court while flapping your arms in circles. We also practice swinging at empty air, balancing on one leg in a variety of strange positions, and running frantic circles around our own tennis rackets. The team gets a lot of encouraging honks from passing fans.

But as we grabbed our rackets and started to get into position for triples—3 vs. 3 tennis, also kind of silly looking but a good time as long as you don’t collide with too many teammates—my friend Bruce* gave me some startling news. “Did you hear about Rachel?” He asked. I hadn’t seen Rachel since our tournament the previous weekend, so I shook my head no. Bruce grew serious. “She has mono,” he said.

Mono—or mononucleosis, as Web MD would say—is a stupid illness. Affectionately known as “the kissing disease,” mono spreads primarily through the sharing of saliva. (I formally apologize for the phrase “sharing of saliva.”) On top of making you feel like shit for months, mono causes inflammation of the spleen, and if you fall on your spleen while it is inflamed, there’s a good chance that it’ll rupture. (Aside from swelling up and benching you from all physical activities when you have mono, the spleen doesn’t do a whole lot. It’s like the right-fielder on a little league baseball team. Just sort of stands there.)

The bottom line is mono sucks. I felt terrible for Rachel and her spleen. I was about to tell Bruce this, but then I had a flashback so vivid, it could’ve been the final scene of a Law & Order episode.

6:15 AM on September 27, 2014. Fifteen or so members of the tennis team crowd the local Dunkin’ Donuts. Almost all of us are wearing grey sweat pants with our team logo and matching I regret signing up for this tournament but I’m trying not to show it expressions. It is still dark outside. The college we’re traveling to for our tournament is two and a half hours away. We’re excited, deep down we really are, but it’s a Saturday and all of our neighbors were blasting music until 2AM and no one can report getting more than five real hours of sleep. Rachel orders a large, cream-colored iced coffee. I do not order a coffee, because I know it will give me a) the jitters, b) a stomachache, c) an intense and prolonged need to pee, or d) all of the above. But Rachel’s cream-colored coffee looks damn good.

 “What kind of coffee did you get?” I ask her out of genuine curiosity. (Coffee fascinates me. Most of the time it makes me feel like I’m going to die and I never know how to order it right, but it’s just so sophisticated, you know?)

 “French Vanilla decaf,” Rachel says. “Want to try?” Then she smiles, tilts her straw towards me, and…

I TOOK A SIP. I TOOK A SIP OF RACHEL’S LARGE FRENCH VANILLA DECAF COFFEE FROM DUNKIN’ DONUTS. MAYDAY. MAYDAY.

My stomach dropped. My skin went cold. I gulped. “Damn,” I said to Bruce, “that sucks.”

Things I chose not to say to Bruce:

Rachel is patient zero, and I am whatever the next victim after patient zero is called. Because I’m an idiot, Bruce.
Oh god, I can already feel my lymph nodes swelling.
I had mono in fourth grade and my mom made me sit on the couch watch Little House on the Prairie with her for six straight weeks. I can’t go back there, Bruce. I CAN’T.

I managed to swallow my fear—noting that my throat felt a little dry, like it was on the verge of becoming severely sore—and I played through the rest of the practice. It was a great practice, actually. Shout out to my friend Alfred for making it to the final round of Around the World two games in a row. (In the final round, you have to drop your racket and spin around in a circle after every shot you hit. I’m starting a petition to bring that rule to the Wimbledon Championships.)

Since the flashback, I’ve had two doctors, several family members, and most of the Internet tell me that contracting mono twice is a highly unlikely scenario. Julie has decided that she is immune. My other roommates are pretending that I have the Bubonic Plague.

Moral of the story: club sports rock, mono sucks, and fuck French Vanilla decaf.

*All names have been changed to protect the ill. Also, all names have been inspired by Batman.

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College, Sweaty

Yoga Misadventures

Hannah and I do a lot of yoga. There’s a vinyasa studio down the street from our dorm, and we try to practice three or four times a week. It’s a small, symmetrical room with blue and green walls, lanterns that throw a soft yellow light, and calming music that permeates the air. The instructors are friendly and encouraging, always telling us to move with our breath and work to our edge. One time we were entering our grueling third minute of high lunge. Our quads were on fire and our arms had been extended over our heads for far too long. Then the instructor, a petite and cheerful redhead, paused and said this with the most serene smile on her face.

This moment, right here, is good.

I wanted to punch her and burst out laughing at the same time. It should be noted that she was not lunging endlessly with us.

But in the end, yoga is consistently one of the best parts of my day. I’m thankful every time I walk out of class that I get to devote an hour of my time to meditation and awkward stretching. And after months of practice, we’ve gotten fairly decent at it. We have our own mats and I have this one top with fancy shoulder straps that totally makes me look the part. I wouldn’t call us yoga novices, but today a few things happened that reminded me how un-Namaste I can be.

I was waiting in line to fill up my water bottle when an instructor, an endearing older man, called me Megan. We’ve been taking his classes for months, but he still gets my name wrong pretty much every time. We started chatting idly about the other ways he’s messed up my name which include calling me Julia and referring to me as Mrs. instead of Miss.

I sat back down on my mat, and a kind-faced woman set up next to me. She must have overheard the previous conversation because she stared at my hands and asked, “So, Julie, you’re married?” At least she got my name right. I clarified that no, I’m very much not married while Hann laughed hysterically.

Now for this next one, let me set the scene in the rest of the studio. People lie splayed out on their backs, stretching vigorously with their knees up by their ears. Some meditate, eyes closed and breathing deeply. Others chat with neighbors in soft, tranquil voices. Hannah and I were fantasizing about when this day would end when she reminded me that I still had to write this blog post.

And for a second, drowning in my own despair, I forgot where I was and half-whispered, half-yelled “FUCK” in a quiet yoga studio. I also curled up in a ball and rolled around on the floor a little bit. This move was less outlandish given my surroundings. Hann laughed at me the whole time.

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Sweaty

What’s A Ski?!

For most of my life, I assumed I was a pretty cool person. I did things. I had talents. I could do back flips on trampolines and off of swingsets. I could rollerblade like a champ. One time I caught a massive purple jellyfish at the beach in a plastic bucket. Hell, one time I even jumped out of a plane.

Then I moved in with Hannah. As we made our beds and unpacked our bags after Christmas break, she asked me if she could keep her skis by my bed. Of course, I’d said. Roommate harmony continued. When friends walked into our room and looked around, their eyes always seemed to stop on the skis propped against my desk.

“Do you ski?” they’d ask. And every time I answered no, I got the same incredulous response.

 

“You don’t ski??”

This was usually followed by a “lame,” or a “what the hell,” and after a while I got defensive about my lack of mountain experience. I refused to apologize for never having skied and insisted that it wasn’t that cool anyway. That is, until I tried it.

Over winter break, Hannah invited me to her ski condo, fed me chocolate chip cookies, took me snowshoeing, lent me gear, and taught Andie and I to ski. (In case you were wondering, it is in fact possible to have a roommate that is this cool.) On day one we snowshoed.

Despite what it looks like, we had a good time.

Then the day arrived. We put on all of the necessary articles. (There are so many things you have to wear when you ski.) We tried helplessly to adjust to walking in ski boots. Hannah made sure we looked legit (though I’m not even sure what “legit” looks like), and we tried not to blow our cover by saying something stupid. A second after I said this, Andie shouted, “What’s a ski?!” while flailing her arms in the air.

The day went by incredibly fast, and we had so much fun. Our friends were patient and helpful and they laughed at us when we fell. The cold air tasted so good. And the day was basically one big photo op.

So now that I’ve seen what I’m missing, I feel a little bit more lame for not actively skiing more. I’m not too worried though, I can still rollerblade.

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Sweaty

Squashed

When my friend Katie first asked me to play squash, I was thrilled. Katie is the captain of our club tennis team, I’m a member of the club tennis team– tennis and squash had to be similar, right? I had transferrable athletic skills for days. Squash would be a perfect addition to the list of Sports I Rock At. (The list of Sports I Rock At would be more accurately titled Sports I’m Least Likely to Embarrass Myself Playing, and it goes like this: tennis, skiing. I scored 18 points in a rec league basketball game when I was twelve, but it’s all kind of been downhill from there.)

We met at our campus gym at 4:30 PM. Rush Hour. I had to claw my way through crowds of shirtless sweaty dudes playing basketball and Hot Girls executing flawless crunches just to find the squash court. Katie, being both one of the kindest and most athletic people I’ve ever met, showed me how to hold the racket and swing properly. We warmed up the squash balls by hitting them against the wall as hard as we could, over and over again. Fun fact: if you don’t warm up your squash balls, they don’t bounce.

(Pause for giggles.)

Moving on.

We continued warming up and hitting practice shots. The proper squash swing was close enough to the proper tennis swing to make me feel overly confident in my abilities, and different enough to ensure that I swung-and-missed at least 15 times in the first 20 minutes. Before we started to rally, Katie gave me an important piece of advice.

“You’re gonna want to run to the ball to stop and swing, like in tennis. But if you do that, you’re going to hit the wall. Believe me, I did my first time. So you want to make sure you just lunge for it.”

“Okay, sounds good,” I answered, half-listening as I whiffed another backhand.

I thwacked the ball at the front wall, and Katie thwacked it back. The entire court is fair game to both players the whole time, so the game itself is kind of nuts– you have to concentrate on where the ball is going, how you’re going to get there, and which route to take so you don’t bowl over your opponent in the process. Hand-eye coordination is key. I was attempting to take all of these things into consideration, and I’d noticed some well-sculpted dudes jumping rope on the other side of the plexiglass wall just before the start of the point. So I may have momentarily forgotten Katie’s advice.

She hit a strong shot– it thwacked the front wall, ricocheted off the side wall and moved towards the floor. That ball was mine. I sprinted, sweat flying, hair frizzing, desperately reaching my racket towards the tiny black ball that refused to bounce…

BAM. I hit the wall.

There were two main points of contact:

knees
face

in that order.

My kneecaps throbbed. My cheekbone stung. My ego was probably going to bruise.

For a second I thought Katie hadn’t seen and I tried to play it off like nothing happened, but squash court acoustics dictate that every player-wall collision shall be accompanied by a sonic boom. So that would’ve been hard to ignore.

“Are you okay?” Katie didn’t even laugh until after I’d started to. I swear she’s the most kind-hearted being on the face of the Earth.

“Yup. Yup, yup.” I nodded and shook out my knees. “Lunging. Not running. Got it.”

She completely kicked my ass in the rest of the game, of course, but the sport is just so fun. (I do think I’ll have to take it off the Sports I’m Least Likely to Embarrass Myself Playing list though. I ran into a wall, for Christ’s sake.) We made plans to play again next week, hopefully with a few other people from the tennis team. And who knows, maybe I’ll even invest in one of those wrap-around eye goggle things. They could probably score me some serious street cred.

I can’t wait to play again. I think it’s official.

I’ve been squashed.

 

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College, Sweaty

The Hot Girl At the Gym

I just ran a marathon on that treadmill. Okay fine, it was three miles, but still, that felt like a lot of miles. I turned the resistance up to like 10.5 for a few 2-minute intervals (is that 10.5 miles per hour, or just some mysterious treadmill unit of speed? I’ve never been completely sure) and my heart is beating so fast that I actually see the words cardiac arrest in red when I blink. I wore a grey t-shirt today; my back, stomach, and arm pits are now a charming shade of sweat-grey. I smell like the inside of the hockey bag. This is glory, my friends.

When I exit the cardio-room a few minutes later, hunched over and continuing to sweat profusely, I’m only half convinced that the threat of cardiac failure has passed. I’m almost to the ab mats (or as I like to call them, “the fab mats”) when I spot her. A majestic creature, both captivating and terrifying, scrolling through her Twitter feed between ab exercises.

The Hot Girl At The Gym.

(Please note, the following description does not refer to any individual in particular, but rather the archetype of Hot Girls At Gyms Everywhere.)

She wears calf-length leggings. Brightly colored sneakers, probably Nike cross-trainers, make those few inches of skin between shoe and legging look unbelievably tan. Maybe it’s just the neon shoe/tight pants combination, but she might have the best legs I’ve ever seen. How does someone get legs like that? Does she do squats in her sleep? And her ass, my goodness– I don’t care if you’re male or female, straight, gay, bisexual, asexual… you’d agree, her ass is a thing of beauty. Her shiny ponytail, perfectly situated, sits behind a colorful headband of the Lululemon variety. I would bet my life– okay, maybe not my life, but my entire 5-pound bag of M&Ms at least– that she just ran more than three miles on the treadmill, and her shirt shows no sign of sweat stains. She moves gracefully from Twitter to a perfect front bridge. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure that if I were to sniff her, she’d smell like Febreeze Spring Renewal.

Several thoughts hit me at once.

I’d like to punch her in her beautiful face.

I’d like to be her best friend.

I’d just like to be her. Maybe we could pull a Freaky Friday kind of deal?

I’m really hungry.

I feel bad about the wanting to punch her in the face thing, I take that back. She’s probably a nice gal.

I wonder if she farts.

So, I’d like to backtrack a little. This scenario, the meeting of The Hot Girl at the Gym, is something you’ve probably experienced before, especially if you use your campus athletic facilities on a regular basis. (The Hot Guy at the Gym is an equally disorienting experience, but that’s a post for another time.) My campus is notoriously homogeneous, so maybe our Hot Girls look a little different from your Hot Girls, but I have to imagine that every campus has their own population of this mysterious specimen: attractive, aloof, and utterly untouchable.

But here’s the thing. In my whirlwind of holy shit that person is more attractive than I could ever dream of being thoughts, it never really occurred to me that The Hot Girl at the Gym is just that– a person. A living, breathing person with dreams and insecurities just like the rest of us. (And she farts, she absolutely farts. No one can live without farting. I googled it.) The Hot Girl is a college student too; maybe she has a test tomorrow that she’s freaking out about, or a meeting with her advisor next week to discuss study abroad options, or a cocktail party this weekend that she’s nervous she won’t get a good date for. Maybe she likes to draw, or debate, or design computer programs. She probably has a best friend who’s seen her cry. Maybe she was just checking out my ass.

(Okay that last one was probably wishful thinking, but I have been doing a lot of yoga lately.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Hot Girls At the Gym are more than just Hot Girls At the Gym. They may occasionally make me feel like a giant ball of incompetent frizzy sweat, but that’s my problem, not theirs. They have every right to do their gym thing, and I have every right to do mine. I just happen to do it in a way that’s ever-so-slightly less enjoyable to look at. And smell.

So if you’re like me and you sweat like a pig in July when you get on a treadmill, or you can’t wear sleek Nike sneakers because they don’t give your feet enough arch support, or you don’t love wearing leggings to workout because sometimes they give you weird wedgies, that’s okay. Or if you do love wearing leggings, and your badass Nikes are your favorite shoes, and you can run hundreds of miles without breaking a sweat, that’s cool too. Maybe you are the Hot Girl at the Gym, and you’re thinking back to the time you were doing crunches on the ab mats and you saw that girl with huge sweat stains and curly hair marveling at your ass. If so, that’s a little uncomfortable and I’m sorry you had to read all of this, but maybe we can be friends someday.

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We Jumped Out of a Plane

I have a lot of things I’d like to say about college, like how university brochure pictures blatantly lie or how much I love it when professors accidentally walk into things in the middle of their lectures. But all of that wondrous observation will have to wait, because I jumped out of a plane yesterday morning.

(In case you didn’t quite absorb that the first time, let me reiterate: I jumped out of a plane yesterday morning.)

Skydiving has always been one of those distant, vaguely interesting activities that other people do, like going to Red Sox games or changing their bedsheets on a regular basis. I would’ve signed up if someone asked me to go with them, but I probably wouldn’t have inspired an army of friends to jump out of the sky with me of my own accord. When I was twelve or thirteen, my aunt or my friend or my friend’s dog had a birthday or something, and all of my prepubescent friends and our parents got to go indoor skydiving, which was a rather strange experience. They gave me a purple jumpsuit and a pair of plastic goggles that cut into my skin, guided me into this giant cylindrical wind-chamber thing, and shot enough air at my face that my body actually lifted off the ground. (My cheeks also lifted off my face, a flattering phenomenon which can still be admired in the framed picture hanging in my parents’ basement.) It was fun, but to be honest, I spent more time posing for the picture guy outside the chamber than I did actually paying attention to the levitation. (I’m not proud.)

Fast forward a few years, and it’s a warm summer night. Julie and I are sitting on my couch, watching either Tangled or The Blair Witch Project (I can’t quite remember which), and we get an excited phone call from our friend Meg.

(Meg, in a nutshell: Environmental Engineering major, continually frustrated/entertained by the liberal-artsy nature of my homework assignments, owner of a vast collection of pullover sweatshirts in varying colors and styles, the kind of friend who’ll let you know when you’ve got a booger and no one else has the courage to point it out. She lived on our floor last year, and would always stop by to chat on her way to the bathroom. The bathroom plays a surprisingly large role in forming college friendships.)

“Guys, there’s a skydiving Groupon! We could save like a hundred dollars! But we’d have to buy now, probably within the next half hour because Groupons go really fast. Are you in?” Meg said on speakerphone. We’d all talked about the possibility of jumping out of a plane together, and I’d contributed to the conversation with the kind of oh yeah, that’d be fun that some people might reserve for discussing glow-pin bowling. Skydiving had seemed a faraway, logistically difficult adventure, and I kept thinking of my earlier indifference to indoor levitation. But now skydiving, actual skydiving was here, knocking on our doorstep. Maybe this was fate.

(And if not fate, then it was Groupon, which has some pretty magical qualities itself.)

Julie and I looked at each other.

“Uh, fuck yeah, we’re in.”

*****

We pulled into the skydive airport just before seven yesterday morning, oohing and ahhing at the sun rising over haze-filled fields. The air was crisp and cool; it smelled like golden leaves and bonfire smoke.

The afternoon before we had waited on cloud delay for several hours, preparing to jump, but the clouds stayed frustratingly low. We watched the training video. (Set in the 90s, a man with a beard shows how tandem-jumping equipment works while strapping himself to an attractive young woman. The body position demonstrations are jazzercise-sexual.) We signed the all-inclusive waiver. (We literally cannot fit all the ways you could die from what you are about to do on one sheet of paper, but YOU CANNOT SUE US.) We tried to tell each other a few riddles to pass the time. (No one could guess the answers right, everyone got frustrated, brief bathroom break to cool down.) We went home, slept sporadically, and were back on site before some of the instructors had even arrived.

We were ready to jump out of a fricken plane.

The instructors were talking about the awesome party they had thrown the night before, sipping their coffees with bloodshot eyes and scratchy voices. This was slightly disconcerting. (Brief mental image of being strapped to a hungover man as he vomits from 11,000 feet. Not exactly optimal.) But when they realized that we were ready and waiting, the instructors jumped into action.

Jumpsuits, helmets that made us look like The Coneheads from 1980’s SNL, and those beloved plastic goggles– we hopped, adjusted, zipped, and smiled like lunatics. Within twenty minutes of our arrival on site, Meg, Julie and I were piled into a plane with instructors strapped to our backs, a nimble woman with a camera attached to her head (to accompany Meg, who had splurged for professional photography), and a pilot we were trusting to not drop us in the middle of the Atlantic.

They opened the door at 11,200 feet. We couldn’t hear each other over the roaring wind, but we all knew what we would’ve said. Let’s fucking do this, ladies. If I had jumped first, Julie had been planning on waiting until the very last second before I fell from the plane, then shouting, “MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR GOD!”

But I was last to jump, so that plan didn’t work out. Meg and her dude were up first.

One, two, three. And just like that, Meg was out of the plane.

Julie and her dude were up next, with my dude (who was very tall and calm and decidedly not hungover) and me waddling up close behind. I looked out the door for the first time, all the way down at the sprawling Earth below. There were checkered green fields and shimmering ponds and blue skies extending to infinity in every direction. Over the roar of the wind, I could just barely hear Julie’s dude counting down: ONE, TWO, THREE! And they fell gracefully into the open air, flipping once before drifting under the plane and out of my range of vision.

Then, finally, it was my turn. Jumping out of an airplane. This is actually happening.

It pains me that there’s no actual proof of this (as I jumped last and couldn’t find it in my college student budget to invest in a professional photography package), but we did a barrel roll into a back flip coming out of that airplane. My dude had suggested it when Meg told him that I sometimes like to do daredevil-y things, and I was just like, you know what yeah, I could go for some barrel rolling into a back flip out of an airplane today. So when we fell out of the door into blissful oblivion, we started out sideways. My dude counted to three, our feet left the ground, and the plane drifted away. Then there was only sky, then land, then sky, then land again, and a strong cold wind lifting my cheeks off of my face.

I fell from the sky for 5 minutes, or maybe several years. We could see everything, the entire world it felt like, from Boston to Mt. Monadnock to Nashua to the White Mountains. My dude did some roller coaster-esque maneuvers on the way down, and I thought of nothing but the blue at my fingertips and the green below my feet.

Upon landing, I ran to Julie and Meg, we grouped hugged (hurray for survival! hurry for not saddling our families with unmanageable medical bills because they couldn’t sue!) and walked towards our parents looking something like a scene out of Top Gun.

So you may be asking, what does all of this have to do with college? Well, to be honest, not a whole lot– I kind of just wanted to tell you guys about the time we jumped out of a plane. But crazy opportunities are everywhere my friends, especially if you’re lucky enough to be in college. You don’t necessarily have to jump out of an airplane to see how far the world extends, but don’t forget to leap out of your comfort zone every once in a while. You might just find you like the view better from the outside.

(See what I did there? Pun and a metaphor. You’re welcome.)

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