Monday, May 24, 2004

# 7 ..

++ 7. I've fallen 85 feet off a cliff and survived with only 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my hands and stitches in my back.
yeah yeah. or maybe it was only 80 feet.
did my life flash before my eyes? no.
did i ever think i was going to die? no.
did it feel like forever when i was falling? yeah.
what did you think? only the most basic primal emotions. pain. and survival.
did you yell? no.
did you scream? no.
at all? no.
who was there? mike, nancy, heather, brent, dave, suzie. i think thats it.
how did it happen? i took a step back and fell.
wh..huh? i'll explain in a second.
when was this? about three and a half years ago. fall 2000.
did it hurt? not at first.
did you go to the hospital? didn't want to, but 'they' made me.
are you glad? actually, yeah.
so story please. ok.
we went camping at the red river gorge. on a friday we got down there and got to the top of a cliff, which is really spacious on top. it was fall and it was some weekend getaway thing. the kind where you are looking forward to it for months in advance and you're going rain or shine. no excuses. so we went on friday after studio. camped out. camp-fire. blah blah blah. the next morning brent and i got up at the crack of dawn. because thats what you do when you go cmaping. you get up early. and we decided that it was going to be the perfect time and place to go rapelling (little did we know and later did we find that its illegal to rappel off the cliffs at the red.) so we set up some top rope thing and strapped on our harnesses and started rappelling. it was one of those overhanging rappels where at the top you go over the edge and you aren't touching the rock with your feet or anything. later down the line the rock straightens out and comes back and you can actually put your feet on the rock and push away. so if you have never rappelled before, its creepy as all hell to trust yourself to little piece of metal, friction, and a rope 12mm thick. i went down with a harness. brent went down with a harness. heather went down with a harness. dave went down, although he was scared out of his mind, so it was really slow. really slow! but he made it down. so suzie decided it was her turn. i was at the top helping people get all set up. i didn't have a harness on at this time. i started rearranging ropes so no one would get all caught up in them. suzie had the harness almost on. brent was making sure everything was ok and that her harness was on correctly. heather was on her way back to the top around the side of the cliff. i put the rope around my body just in case and to show how someone would rappel without a harness. luckily it was around my waist and over my back, etc. etc. with both of my hands on the rope. one more step back. one more while explaining. crap i should have been looking. whoops. ah shit. hold on. both hands. wow, i'm going fast. hold on tighter. no tighter. shit. ouch that hurts. wow, thats burning. better let go a little. no wait. falling faster. thats not good. oh hey, there's mike standing there with his hands in his pockets. hi mike. oh and theres nancy. wow her hair is big. wonder why she has her mouth open and her hands to her face. funny. she's not making any sound. nancy, are you ok. shit. i'm going pretty fast now. whoa. spinning around. rock on my left. ah crap. and i gotta go through these trees. crap. those are close. tree limbs. rock face. whoa. ouch. shit. crap. hey. oh, ok. ouch. thats a tree limb. who cares if it burns. if you don't hold on to this rope its gonna hurt a lot more. hold on. hold on. hold on. tree limb. rock face. tree above. tree below. tree to the right. rock to my left. push yourself away from the rock. push yourself away from the tree. hold on. tighter. theres a log on the ground. must avoid that somehow. push. ouch. stupid tree limbs. push again. gotta hold on. and folks if you would kindly return your seats to the full upright condition, the captain has requested you return to your seats and buckle your safety belt. we will be arriving at the red river gorge valley floor in 0.1 second. the local time will be 8.03am and the weather is overcast at 64 degrees. thank you for flying with 'you're fucked if you don't hold on for dear life' we hope you never ever have to fly with us again because next time you won't be so lucky. thwaaaaaaaaaaamp. whew. rock 6 inches to my left. log 4 inches to my right. earth and leaves below me. tree above. poop, luckily not in my pants. same with the pee. prayersof thankfulness, still at the top of the cliff slowly falling back to my head. pain, also coming, but a lot faster. i look up. i see brent's head. "hi brent" "you ok, man?" "yeah, i'm ok. i think i'm going to need some tape though." i get up. nothings broken. thats good. back to the top. pour some water. my hands look like hell. and not the good kind either. i insist a little tape and an aspirin and i'm money. luckily everyone unanimously votes no and off to the local emergency room it is. 45 minutes later, three u-turns, and two gas stations to ask for directions later, and we're there. a photograph to document it. and then i'm on something fierce. vicatin or ridilin or valtrex or something. whatever it is, its making me laugh like a giddy little schoolgirl. oh annnd i'm out. (btw.. thanks for feeding me a granola bar nancy). they stitched me up apparantly and the drugs are wearing off. pain has set in. yikes that hurts. back to the car. back to the campsite. everyone votes to go home. even though its saturday and only 1.23pm. i vote no. we came here to go camping and damnit, we're going camping and hiking. i don't care that it takes a whole hell of a lot of effort to wipe my ass after a poop. we're camping. luckily my vote has more power. (moral of that is to fall off a cliff and almost die. you get more voting power). we stay and go hiking for 5 miles. then camp out that night. i can't hold anything and people have to feed me. bedtime. i can't zip up my sleeping bag either, so someone has to zip that up. morning. i can't get out and i gotta pee. wake up mike. thanks mike for unzipping my .... sleeping bag zipper. no thanks. i'll do everything else myself. i dunno. i'll manage. car ride home. we gotta stop at waffle house. its tradition. someone feed me please. i'll keep my hands under the table so the waitress doesn't mistake me for the invisible man. thank you for cutting and feeding me. straw please. needless to say i was pretty unproductive for the next month. but i'm alive and i can still use my fingers and my back and everything else. the only thing which got damaged was my ego.
what did i gain from this? an unquenchable zest for life and a need to experience everything i can possibly experience. to live life to its fullest. to try. to always try. to find what i like to do and do it with passion. to live. now. sleep. laugh. play. experience. fun. young. whim. try. smile. pride. keep well. climb. no worries. to be myself and love it. its a process and experience i am so extremely lucky to have and i can't even begin to explain it. its so deep and so meaningful and significant, this life, i'm not going to waste it.
i'm living it and loving it.. ++

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