On Trying New Things

Chad or JuJuan suggested it.  I cringed.  “It’s not far,” JuJu said, “20 minutes.”  My heart beat faster.  “Let me get changed,” I said.

I arrived on Guam in the summer of ’94, my first permanent assignment in the Air Force.  18 years old with a real job, I sucked in the soupy air determined to expand my horizons.

I put on some swim trunks and boonie stomping shoes.  I met JuJu at his car and we took off.

This picture is actually a year later, in '96, but you get the general idea of what I looked like.

We parked about a mile from the ocean, just outside of Yigo, and began our hike through the jungle.  The air got thicker as the leaves got denser and I began sucking down the water from my backpack more nervous with each step.  Harmless spiders the size of my hand strewed web after web across our path and hundreds of crabs with white spiral shells scurried at our feet.

“You’re going to love this!” JuJu said.  The jungle gave way to knee-high grass with the ocean a couple hundred yards in front of us.

The grass became more sparse as we walked to the ocean.  The ground became sharp, porous, gray coral.  Chad half-supported, half-pushed me up a short climb.  I developed a gnawing headache.  “We’re almost there,” he said.

And we were.  I peeked over the edge and saw the ocean at the bottom of the cliff I was standing on.  The tide formed a pool below us.  I yelped and stepped back, into Chad.  He held me up and I remembered our treehouse.

In ’82, I climbed high for the best oranges and dangled from branches that held balls and kites.  I laughed at heights and made it up to the second-to-last ladder step without looking down.

We built a treehouse almost six feet off the ground.  I jumped from the treehouse to higher branches to swing and impress Jamie.  And the day when my older brother Jeff wasn’t there, I took his spot in the treehouse, dangerous because there was no branch behind his spot.

I told Jamie, “I’m sitting in Jeff’s spot,” as I leaned back and toppled out.

That's Jamie on the left, then me, Jean, and Jake. I fell out and landed on my head in a metal wheelbarrow.

I hated heights.  My heart beat faster, the waves crashed below me.  I joined the Air Force and chose Guam to show I was fearless.  Chad was saying something behind me, probably mocking me.  I held my breath, my head pounded.  I looked down, a big wave was coming in.  I closed my eyes…

That's me at the bottom, taken from the spot I jumped from.

Zach is still at his first bravery stage of life.  He attacks the unknown with gusto.  I’m not building him a treehouse.

About Jimmy

The stories herein are about a sentimental 80s child who cried at every showing of ET (the sad part where he was lying in the wash) and his families, then and now. His wife, son, parents, and siblings play their parts well. They have their exits and their entrances. Sometimes their exits are sad, but not as sad as ET.
This entry was posted in 2nd Grade, Elementary School, Life, memoir, Nostalgia, treehouse and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to On Trying New Things

  1. Dianna says:

    I have to ask: did you jump willingly or did you have a little help from Juju??
    Love the video of Zach! What a face!

    • Jimmy says:

      Oh, I jumped willingly! That was my second bravery stage of life. I’ve got a picture somewhere of me in the air… I just need to find it.

  2. inkline says:

    Well, I would have fallen in love with you even if you hadn’t jumped any cliffs in Guam.
    Maybe not if you hadn’t been so brave about the treehouse times.
    Please don’t tell Zach this story for a long time. I’m not ready for him to have those ideas in his head just yet.

  3. colonialist says:

    Urk! How on earth did you know there was enough depth? I mean, one looks pretty silly if it turns out to be waist-deep.
    Only way I’d jump off there is with an abseil rope firmly attached!

  4. Mom says:

    As I recall, Jamie got into a lot of trouble when you fell out of that treehouse. I wonder if he did lots of crazy things as he grew up.
    So, later on, did you take the next new guy cliff jumping?

  5. heights, not may fave thing either… I never would never have jumped.

  6. Maxi Malone says:

    Be still my heart; both for your bravery at the jump … and your precious little Zach. This clip has made my day!

    Blessings – Maxi

  7. Adrienne says:

    My husband did a lot of cliff jumping where he grew up in Oregon. I’ve seen the cliffs. I’m glad I missed that stage of his life….and that the kids only went for visits. Cause I have a boy that would have (might still!) attempt that. He’s climbed his share of trees, and has never had a fall. Still fearless at 22…

  8. Virginia says:

    woah — that looks REALLY HIGH… way to go! : )

    • Jimmy says:

      I tell my wife that it was upwards of about two miles, but it was really probably 30-40 feet. I only actually dove once, but it hurt when my head slapped the water, so I went feet first after that.

  9. projectwhitespace says:

    I didn’t realize we had this in common: I joined the Air Force in 1993 when I was 18 too. In fact, I stepped on Guam during a month long leave somewhere between Korea and California. Didn’t get to visit though. Just a layover. This is a pretty crazy experience! Your kids will love reading it someday. 🙂

    • Jimmy says:

      What did you do for the AF? After 17 years or so, we’re going back to PACAF this summer (Elmendorf AFB/ Anchorage, AK). We’ll see how it has changed!

      • projectwhitespace says:

        I was a Korean Linguist. I lived in Korea for a year. That’s when I took a month off and took a military flight that took a stop at Guam. Our plans were to go to Alaska, but we ended up going to Hawaii instead! Haha! I was totally packed wrong. But when you are flying military (for free), you just take whatever flight you can get (at least, that was my method). If you were in Anchorage, I wonder if you knew my friend, Jason Babekuhl. He was stationed there during that time as a civil engineer or something like that. What did you do there?

      • Jimmy says:

        On Guam, I was a comm troop (SATCOM/Wideband maintenance). I got out for a bit and went to school. Then I came back in. Now, I’m a JAG and we’re leaving for Anchorage next month.

  10. Dor says:

    Oooooh – both stories make me dizzy! You would probably love bunjee jumping right? Ah, there’s something about wild men who lean out of tree houses with no limbs for support!

  11. Great story! And I loved that video of your brave little guy. His reaction was priceless. 🙂

  12. Caddo Veil says:

    Love what you’ve got going here! Especially the photos!! God bless you and your family abundantly.

  13. pmeck says:

    I’m enjoying reading your blog and I’m your newest follower. I have two blogs, one here on WordPress that’s a memoir blog like yours. The other is a craft blog on Blogger. The bloggers in the crafting blogosphere have a game of TAG and I have decided to TAG YOU. I’m hoping to send the game of TAG into the literary blogosphere to help us get to know each other and see what other blogs people are connected to. Hop on over to http://www.crazythriftycrafts.blogspot.com to see and join in the fun of getting to know our fellow bloggers. Thanks, and I really have enjoyed your posts!

  14. Jimmy says:

    Thank you so much for both nominating me and taking the time to read my posts. I’ll definitely be back over to your site for more of your ‘fifty’!

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