Deep breath. Well. Here goes nothing.
I’ve started this post 6 different times, with 6 different intros and I’ve hated each more than the last. But I think the only appropriate anecdote I can throw in here to accurately describe how I’m feeling at this moment has to do with skydiving. So indulge me for a moment.
About 2 years ago, I traveled to New Zealand for a several week long trip through both the north and south islands. While the bulk of this trip is irrelevant to this post topic, I will say it was one of the biggest life changing trips I had gone on to date, the culmination of which, ended in me jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 12,000 feet above Paradise Valley just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand.
Now for anyone who has skydived before, you may be able to relate to this, and for those who haven’t, trust me when I say, nothing prepares you for that moment the side hatch door opens, revealing you and your fellow thrill seekers to rushing wind and the deafening sound of the propellers less than 20 feet away. Suddenly, what small metal framework that was separating you from 12,000 feet of open air is gone, and if you happen to be in my shoes, a 6’5″ Scottish man named Russell is strapped to your back, instructing you how to pose like banana once it’s your turn to “go.” All the while, there’s a GoPro shoved in your face and yes, you force that smile. Even though, on the inside, you’re screaming for your life. And maybe shitting your pants. And by maybe, I mean you’re definitely doing both, as you sit inside the world’s smallest plane, climbing higher and higher all the while.
One by one, I watched members of my group saddle up reluctantly to the open side door, their tandem partners yelling instructions, before WHOOSH — they were sucked right out — one minute smiling and nodding nervously and the next, just vanished literally into thin New Zealand air. Being in the back of the plane, meant I had the privilege of going last, or in other words, Russell’s favorite slot because the pilot actually goes a bit higher for you since the plane is lighter at this point. (File this under: things you should NOT tell your tandem partner the minute before you jump.)
Finally, as my turn approached, Russell started tightening more straps that I didn’t even realize were attached to us and I peeked out the door. With each tug and pull from Russell as he prepared us to jump, I felt the control freak in me push and shove right back. As my face braced for the blanket of cold air whirling all around me, my eyes struggling to focus on the small landmarks below, I realized just how not in control of the situation I was. And that I had two choices. I could be OK with it. Or I could kick and scream and fight it.
That’s when I heard Russell rather violently scream in my ear, “Ready to get into your banana pose?! We’re jumping in 3, 2…”
And that fucker never got to 1. He had us jump on 2. And I kind of love him for it.
To make this already rambling long story, short, the next initial 3-5 seconds were terror (when you’re climbing to terminal velocity) and then the next 45 seconds or so of free falling before the shoot opens was magical, but still terrifying. You’re weightless at this point and it truly does feel like flying. Unlike any feeling I will probably ever experience again. Needless to say, we were blessed with an incredible view for the ride down — expansive green valleys all around, flanked by beautiful mountain ranges on either side (and yes, home to Isengard for all my Lord of the Rings buffs). It’s so beautiful in fact, you almost forget that your life now depends on whether or not someone showed up to work today to properly pack that parachute that’s now strapped to your best friend, Russell’s back.
Operative word there is: almost. You almost forget that detail.
To cut to the chase: SURPRISE! We landed. I survived. I hugged Russell the minute we glided back down at base camp and I even did the cliche kissing of the ground. And despite the oncoming feeling of slight vertigo, I had never felt more alive in my life as I did in that moment.
If you’ve made it this far into my story, first of all, thank you! Secondly, kudos! And thirdly, where am I going with all of this? Here’s where:
All my life, I’ve waited for the countdown. 3. 2. 1. GO. Preparing, analyzing, overanalyzing and preparing some more. And then I’ve likely waited for another countdown, because I assumed the first countdown was a practice run. Or that I just wasn’t ready for the next jump. This isn’t to say I’ve lived in fear. God, no. Just that I’ve always taken the most calculated route I could for most things, professionally and personally. Both a blessing and a curse, really. And I can’t complain as to where it’s brought me. I’ve accomplished and worked on some big things, for some big companies and learned more about myself and my abilities (and my limitations) than I care to admit in this post.
And then this past year, as if I were making up for lost time, I changed a lot about my life. With very little downtime, no breathing room in between and certainly not a single countdown uttered. I moved across the country (as you well know), I went through some rough breakups (as I’ve alluded to on social media) and I then left my very secure job of 5 years to pursue This Time Tomorrow full time back in September (which I’m telling you guys now, for the first time, ever).
Whoa. It feels weird to type that last sentence. And at the same time, god damn exhilarating. Because it still blows me away that something I started on a whim in college in the middle of a terrible recession, is now what I wake up every day excited to work on. Rest assured, I’ll be sharing my story documenting the thought process behind leaving Google on another day but here’s the spoiler alert: it was a more than amicable breakup and I will always love that company.
Now, I’m not sharing any of this with the expectation of fanfare or praise or even a pat on the back. I’m by no means curing cancer or helping children in the third world. At the end of the day, I’m just another writer thrilled and humbled to be able to do what I’m doing and have it (sorta) pay the bills. I’m sharing this with you all because 1.) I love you dearly for humoring me and following this little corner of the internet for close to 7 years so you deserve to be filled in and 2.) we all need a reminder sometimes that it’s OK to not wait for the countdown. Planning and analyzing get you so far, but at a certain point, sometimes you just have to jump on 2, otherwise you might miss your window entirely.
That said, if things look a little different around here, that’s because they are! I hope you enjoy this mini-facelift as much as I do (it was long overdue, not to mention, my old URL was just plain ugly). I look forward to creating more and writing even more for you guys here. As always, thank you. For everything. Truly.
Time for another deep breath. Because, well, here goes nothing.
Photos by Ryan Ulsh for Elle Magazine (you can see my full spread in the May issue now featuring Tommy Bahama spring pieces, page 133!)