Taking the Leap

When I think of India, I don’t associate it with a good place to go for a swim.   But myself and twenty-two others piled into the back of a rusty antique truck; happily squished in like sardines anticipating what our Indian host family does for a refreshing dip.  Passing the coconut trees silhouetted against the moon and stars, I felt a buzzing calm…I had a feeling that tonight would be a one of those nights where I say: this one’s for the memoirs.

We had arrived.  As we walked up to the deep and endless precipice, I thought that the water had dried up. Setting myself up for disappointment, I peeked over the edge of the abyss. I noticed one pipe sticking out expelling water and noticed that the hole was not dry at all, but the water line was extremely deep within it, about twenty feet.  Immediately, one of the California boneheaded frat boys jumped in.  Surprisingly, he did not break anything and surfaced the water wooing in victory.  More boys joined in the jump.  I decided to step down the stairs onto the ledge about 12 feet above the water level and hop in.  SPLASH!  The water was surprisingly warm.  I searched for the concrete bottom of the pool in the filled silence of the watery depths, but never found it.  After surfacing, I was told that this huge swimming pool sized concrete hole is a well…. 80 feet deep.  That’s when I decided to make the 20-foot jump.  After a good solid count, “1…2…3!”  I jumped, over and over again from that exhilarating height.

Then the frat boys decided to push the limits.  Across the way, a higher ledge, about 35 feet awaited.  Again, they woo’ed and hollered as they flew through the air and plopped into the watery abyss.  And again, many people, including myself, followed suit.  It was glorious.  Better than any high dive I’ve ever conquered.  They were doing back flips and cannonballs, but I stuck to the jackknife and took once chance with a head-first dive. Luckily the plunge took me deep enough in the water to give me ample time to pull my swimsuit back on before I surfaced.

Then, the frat guys outdid themselves.  One of them managed to climb on top of the roof to the building right next to the well.  This is where a pipe and two metal poles protruded out of the side.  This was a 50-foot jump before touching the water’s surface.  With many hoots and hollers from his peers, he took a big leap, flailed his limbs airborne, and made a huge seemingly painful PLOP sound when he hit the water.  All of us groaned in empathetic pain when we heard the sound and anxiously stared, waiting for him to surface.  After almost too long of a wait, he came up, gasped and hollered louder than before.  “That had to hurt,” Adam said.  “No, dude,” the frat boy said.“It was awesome!”  Soon, his frat friend and one sorority chick did it.  The fact that a girl made the jump sparked my curiosity. But after Adam, the trip leader made the leap, I knew this India trip wouldn’t be complete without me jumping off this building into a well.

After I was boosted to the roof by the frat guys, everyone was cheering my name. I stepped on the slippery edge and looked down at the obstacles that could kill me on my drop. I counted to three in my head.  That didn’t work.  I said it quietly to myself and…. I was still on the roof.  Then, everyone joined in the count,  “1, 2, 3!” Whooossh!  Time slowed down… That’s a lie. And a horrible cliché. But I flew for three-and-a-half seconds.  And that’s a long time, damn it.   And then… CRASH, deep into the watery depths… At this moment, I realized… that I was deep inside a well…in the middle of the night… in India.  I immediately thought about my journey through this ongoing trip around the world.  My growing mentality embodied in this one 50-foot jump into the depths of the unknown, past the fears, possible dangers, not knowing exactly how or where I will land, into a pool of seemingly unending mystery.  And here in this realization, I found myself swimming to the surface of this watery abyss, unharmed, never feeling more alive! I welcomed the thick Indian air and the applause.  I conquered yet another fear, another danger, and created yet another story of adventure.  It was beyond exhilarating.

Like all the other adventurous dives I have taken in life, the splash only hurt a little bit.  And I absolutely went back for seconds, recruiting two more girls to join me.  The second time I bruised my tailbone.  And came up from the water, laughing at my hilarious injury.  Even as I sit here in my chair days later, writing these words, shifting from the lingering pain from that night, I have to smile at the enduring aching souvenir of my brave adventure; a lasting reminder to always take the leap in ports to come.  No regrets.  Absolutely, no regrets.

— Erica Johnson




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