Beyond The Pale

Where I’ve Been This Last Month

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but not from laziness, per se, more from lack of access to the internets. In the month-plus since my last post, I’ve gone to airborne school in Ft. Benning, Georgia, Driven across the country—literally—and finally gotten signed into my unit. Now I’m getting ready to leave again.

Before actually going, all my knowledge of airborne school came from Band of Brothers and some cryptic remarks that my already-airborne-qualified friends had made about keeping feet and legs together and calling people dirty, nasty legs. It turns out that airborne is just like any other school that I have been to, not nearly as hard as it is made out to be, but just as gay as people claim. From my perspective it looked like a two week “you can’t sue me; I trained you well” course that could have been done over a weekend, followed by a couple days of sitting on a bench, not allowed to fall asleep or talk, waiting to jump out of a plane. If that sounds retarded and boring, it is. If it sounds like it wouldn’t be worth the wait though, it is worth every second of it.

Jumping out of “a perfectly good airplane,” as people are so fond of saying, is an experience that I find hard to explain. Most people just call it a rush, and it is; those two or three minutes of waiting for the green light to jump and the two or three seconds of waiting for the chute to open are pure adrenalin. Some of my friends said they were scared of jumping. I was scared that I would hesitate and be disappointed with myself. When I jump and start to count, “one thousand, two thousand three thou—“ (I never made it to four thousand, which is when you start thinking about activating your reserve) and then the parachute catches me, I don’t have time to feel any kind of internal rush because I’m busy.

The word that I would use to describe the overall experience isn’t “rush” or “exciting” or any of those things, though it is all of them. Rather, I would call it serene. Since I’ve been in the Army, I’ve found that it is often difficult to find the time to just enjoy a moment of unrequired silence (it doesn’t count when people are forcing you to do it and yelling at all the people who don’t have the disciple to stay silent), but the minute or so between the opening of the chute and preparing to land is great. It is a time to feel the stillness of the world, the quiet. Every time that I jumped, I found myself praying on the way down, and I wasn’t praying that I wouldn’t break my leg; I was praying in thanks to God for creating such a beautiful world that I hadn’t had opportunity to see from quite that angle before. That moment, suspended there alone with God and the gentle noise of the world made all the stupidity of the previous weeks obsolete.

As soon as airborne school was done, I hopped a plane for California (we graduated at 11:00 and I was in a taxi headed for Atlanta by 12:00). When I moved to Texas, I left all of my stuff out there in storage, and Dad and I had planned on meeting out there to bring it back. Our plans were foiled by the airlines though because we ended up arriving in Monterey not only on the same flight, but sitting right next to each other. Matt, a friend from church, was kind enough to pick us up at the airport and drive us to the Naval Post Graduate School, where I had rented a room for the night, and the next morning he picked us up and drove us over to the Budget Truck rental place in Salinas. Before we picked up the truck, though, we stopped at a restaurant place called Elli’s, which had the biggest plates that I have ever seen. From Budget, we said goodbye to Matt, and Dad and I headed over to the storage unit, filling the truck in about an hour, and rolling out of Monterey before 1:00 pm.

From there we started our drive across the country, which I’ll write about tomorrow.


May 2, 2009 - Posted by | Army, Journal Style Entries, Travel


  1. So, first, did you know that your dad would be on the same flight as you? It’s just a good thing they didn’t think you were the same person, otherwise you’d’ve ended up in his lap.

    Second, I’ve been terrified of heights for about as long as I can remember (aside from climbing trees and ropes and poles). The thought of jumping from a plane makes me start to heave internally. But I loved the side of it you emphasized; the reverent solitude sounds perfectly thrilling.

    Comment by It's Just Me | May 3, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wow, love the description of jumping! I would love to do that someday.

    Comment by xgravity23 | May 4, 2009 | Reply

  3. What beautiful sacred space to be that alone with God in the firmament away from the noise plague. That sounds right up my freedom alley.

    Comment by wordorgy | June 29, 2009 | Reply

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