(*Disclaimer* This story contains explicit information about defecation. If you’re not in to that, like some people I know, then skip down to the asterisk line where the rest of the story is poo-free and more about me risking my neck. Thank you.)
As I pointed out in my india journal entry “The Danger Shot”, there comes a point in each trip I take where I like to risk life and limb for the sake of a good story. That is what this entry is about. In Cambodia, I climbed a massive boulder while getting bit by fire ants, in India I climbed a tower strung with numerous wires and electrical outlets for the sake of a good photo, and in Italy, well instead of ascending, I chose to descend.
It was our last trip to Cinque Terre with the camp. The weather was absolutely stinking gorgeous and I felt a mixture of happiness and forlorn not knowing when I would be able to visit this beautiful area of Italy ever again. Each trip to this five-town region had been utterly rememorable and distinct and I was hopeful that this time would be no different. I knew what I had to do to make this happen. I had to take the leap of insanity that I had passed up the two previous times I had been here. I was thinking about it all the time. The cliff was mocking me from afar in my restless sleep. It was like the eye of sauron atop Mount Doom staring at me through while I rested my head upon inflatable mattress. It’s power had become overwhelming. Compelling. I had to go. I MUST go…
We arrived at the main train station and hopped off at the first town. This was a journey I had to make on foot. My fellowship of the fling consisted of three others and myself; Kyle, king of texan dwarf giants, Luke, elven prince of friendswood and Peterwise the Gray, wizard of gogurt. We trudged on through the horrors and rank stank of the 1st town. The sight of the Lovers Walkway caused one’s stomach to turn. (Not really, it was really-cutesy and made me feel heartsick that I was walking through one of the most beautiful places in Italy with two guy that were married or dating. There was place where you and a lover could affix a lock to the bridge as an ever-lasting symbol of your love – depending on the strength of said lock that you had attached.) We battled unspeakable beasts at every niche and corner, our minds teeming with the thoughts of victory while our eyes bled fury from the bloodlust that galloped through our veins. (As did sugar. We ate a few gelatos before making it to the jump. And some fuckatcha.)
Finally, we arrived at the Death Bay of the second city, a truly dismal sight (Tourists, sunshine, waves, fat americans, beautiful italians). In a battle of wits and power, we lost our friend Peterwise the Gray to an evil beast, awakened from the depths of hell (his wife, mary, who is actually super nice and not beastly or hellish didn’t want him to jump). Bloodied and depleted, mentally and physically (from pizza and ice cream) we made it to the top… to the jump… to our destiny… but first we had to go down down below and make sure it was save to jump and that there wouldn’t be any rocks directly underneath the water that we would impale ourselves upon. I mean, we didn’t want to die or anything. So we climbed down the cliff to the ocean water and swam around the amazingly blue water. I dove as deep as I could/felt like without goggles to find nothing at all around us. The leap was on!
Before this could happen, an unforeseen circumstance made it’s self known. All of the damned elvish bread I had consumed earlier had flown through my system like a train through the tunnels of cinque terre. Yes, I wanted to fly, Yes I wanted to jump, Yes I had loads of adrenaline, but before this… i had to dump. okay? From my two previous trips to Cinque, I was about ninety-eight percent positive that were no bathrooms in these cities. People just peed and pooed wherever they wanted. Not like India all out in the open and shit but mysteriously hidden in some manner that my american mind could not fathom. Plus, I wasn’t about to trek back up mount doom to walk back to the 2nd town just to find a place to do my deed. And, I was pretty much already in what resembled a massive toilet bowl anyways… I shouted out my urgencies to my companions and they quickly heeded my call; dashing out of the surrounding water and keeping a lookout for evil orc patrols (or nearby swimmers). A note about this if I may, pooping in open water is one of the most uncategorizable yet totally pleasure filled experiences one can have. I admit, I was slightly conscious of nearby aquatic life that would want to investigate just exactly what the hell was going on but once the motion of my ocean had started, all my fears just drifted away… along with lunch. But of course, idiocy and laziness befell my two companions and no more than 25 feet away, a kayak appeared with two newlyweds happily exploring the surrounding cove. A little note – thiiiiss was pretttty clear water. Like super clear. My fishing expedition came to a screeching halt and I cut the line while reeling up my pants in a discrete motion…. I didn’t ask and they didn’t tell.
It was time. We gathered our belongings and made peace with the recently deceased. Up the cliff we went. We had made it. And holy balls did the nerves hit us. From our estimates this was somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-80 feet. The only real measurement we had was to drop a rock and count “One-One Thousand, Two-One Thousand, Three-One Thousand, FOUR”! Splash. If somebody can translate that to height in feet, then let me know. I wanted to go first, kinda. But Luke wanted to go first as well. We danced around like the butterflies within our stomach before Luke approached the railing with an increasing ‘ohshitness’ factor building quickly. Hands on the rail. One leg over. Two legs over. We held on to luke’s wrist because the ground was rather slippery and unsteady as was the metal railing. Luke turned around reversing his hands on the pole… He looked back at us… and leapt. It felt like he was falling forever. HUGE SPLASH! And boom! there he was waving at us like a kid that had just jumped into the pool. Watching this made me feel peaceful that he hadn’t died and also less peaceful because HOLYCRAPDIDYOUJUSTSEEHOWLONGITTOOKHIMTOHITTHEWATER?!?! Also, a crowd had started to form. This did not help. An american lady came up to me with her hands on her mouth in scared awe. “What would your mother say??” she asked in disbelief. I told her my mother would by crying against the rocks over there. Regardless, it was my turn. I jumped over the rail in the same manner as luke and had kyle there to hold on to me. This was the last place you wanted to slip or trip. If you didn’t jump out or somehow fell to either side of the jump, you were most definitely seagull lunch. I shimmied to the center and turned around. My heart was pounding. I tried to step outside myself to look at how it was affecting me but thankfully i stayed right where I was mentally and sucked in the moment. A thought ran through my head from a scientific experiment show where they display how jumping wrong into water from 60 feet is like jumping onto cement from 60 feet. I was going to dive like a pencil off this sunuvabitch…
And then… silence, beautiful weightlessness and freedom in the earth’s atmosphere… beauty and peace had collided against angst and nervousness and created a millisecond of utopia. Then the air started whooshing around me like I was skydiving and I was plummeting like a ton of bricks into the waves below. I looked down to make sure i was pointing my toes down and creating the least wind resistance possible, whiich in retrospect may not have been the best idea.
I hit the water and experienced an instant feeling of red throughout all my senses. I felt my body sinking down, down, and down further as air bubbles escaped from trapped air my body had brought into the water with me. I reached a point of darkness and a thought danced quickly into my head “am I going to pass out?” …. As quickly as it danced into my head it flew out and i shook my head while spreading out my legs and arms to stop the descent. I looked up into darkness (i don’t remember if this was visual or mental) and began to swam… for what ended up being like 7 seconds.
I broke through the water and luke was right there smiling and laughing. He was concerned that I didn’t pop up super quickly like he did. I felt an instant explosion of joy and accomplishment, all from just jumping off a cliff. As stupid as it may sound, something changed in myself (and luke) from doing this jump. I feel totally changed in the realms of confidence and adventure from just jumping off a high place in italy. At the time, I also felt red hot fire on my ass cheeks from slapping the water so hard, even in a pencil-like position. My teeth ached from having my mouth slightly apart before landing. There was salt water pouring from my nasal cavity which wouldn’t stop until 3 hours later. My neck ached the next two days from looking down before I landed; hence the red lights. But i felt absolutely stinking great.
We climbed back up to take pictures of the jump and the cove. An older italian woman, about the same age as the american woman, came over to me and spoke in broken english. “You justa jump eh?” Yes, i nodded my head. She just whistled and smiled before saying “grande couragio!” And this is why european women rock. They like it when guys do stupid stuff such as jumping off a stupidly high cliff!
The rest of the day was a blur. The aftershocks of the jump resonated in me until I drove away from italy a few days later. Looking back, it may just seem like a humorous story of jumping off a cliff like any number of countless drunken rednecks do every weekend. But it was also a momentous moment of kicking apprehensions and worry in the balls and laughing like a maniac while plummeting through the air; tears streaming from your eyeballs in the wind. This act, foolish or not, has changed the way i look at everyday and not-so-everyday events. If thoughts of hesitance confront me in any circumstance all i have to do is think back to the cliff jumping in cinque terre.
Just jump you damned fool, and laugh while you do it.