Amidst the obscure carni-music and the sunburnt festival crowd, I catch up to the group I'm with and listen as my sister asks, "What's that over there? Bungee jumping?"
I look and see the contraption with the two poles sticking out of the ground and the elastic ropes hanging diagonally from the top.
"Yeah, I think so. It's one of those that shoots you straight up I think," comments Jennifer beside me, "I'd go for it if I wasn't pregnant. Anyone wanna try it?"
"I'll go for it," I chime in obscurely.
"How much is it?" my sister inquires.
"10 dollars." William observes.
My sister looks over at me with wide, excited eyes and says, "I'll pay for it if you do it."
The first thing out of my mouth was, "Sure, by all means."
She hands me the ten dollar bill and I walk up to the man under the booth.
"That'll be 10 dollars. If you'll just print and sign your name here and include your age beside it, that's all we need."
I take the pen from his hands and nervously write my name down twice and lie about my age.
"Ok, right this way. Step on the scale over there."
I walk over and stand on the scale while the attendant yells something incoherent to the guy up by the bungee contraption.
"Ok, I'm going to put this harness on you. It's got lots of straps and clips so it'll take me a second."
I wait patiently while he tightly straps the harness around my thighs, stomach, and chest.
"Ok, you're ready to go. Take the stairs to the platform."
Strapped to the harness, I take awkward steps up the stairs, the anticipation starts to build as I near the man who operates the actual jump.
"Hi," I mumble as he readies the steel clips that attach the elastic ropes to my harness. I align myself with the ropes and he starts to set me in.
"Put your hands in these straps and hold on to them while you're up there. When you get up to the top, bend your knees and do a backflip," he instructs.
"Right then. Bend knees, do backflip. I think I can manage that," I reply with false confidence.
"Don't worry too much about the backflip part. Usually if you bend your knees the natural momentum sends you back. You ready?"
"As ready as this moment will allow me to be."
"Ok, have fun."
I look up and squint against the sun to see the elastic ropes getting tighter as they go up the poles. Then I scan the crowd to see my sister, readied with my camera to take pictures, and her friends looking on with goofy smiles on their faces. I can't see the person I brought, and I mouth to them, "Where did Govi go?"
After a few confused gestures, my sister gets the question and yells back, "He couldn't bear to watch so he left to go rest a second."
The voice of the operator interrupts my momentary contemplating, "On 3! Ready?!"
The crowd starts to cheer.
"1 -- 2 -- 3!!"
I hear a mechanical sound, then snap!, my adrenaline starts to rush as the cord holding me to the platform falls. My heart drops to my stomach and my eyes see only sky as I'm flung upward. I reach the top, bend my kness, and do backflip #1. Then as I flip downward, seeing the sky, the lights of other rides, the people, the ground, then back to the sky, I hear a jumble of my own screaming laughter, the crowd cheering, the aforementioned carni-music, and air pushing past my ears. I reach the bottom and flip again upward, experiencing more mixed sensations of feelings, sights, and sounds. Then I spring to the top, flip backward once more, and finally reach the moment where I stop flipping and just bounce a dozen feet or so up and down until I become more stable. I take in air with deep breaths and find myself smiling with a newfound burst of energy. They lower me to the bottom and the two men come over to me.
"So was it worth it?", asks one man while he unclips the bungee from the harness, and then the harness from me.
"Yeah, I'd have someone else pay to put my very existence in jeopardy any day.", I reply with a half-joking smile.
I take a few shaky steps down the stairs and into the crowd, to my sister and her friends.
"That was cool! And I took lots of pictures!", my sister exclaims excitedly.
I start saying something to them, when I see Govi standing off to the side. 'Hello sanity', are the words that fill my mind. I feel a sudden rush of emotion and go over to give him a big hug and kiss, realizing that (as trite as this sounds) I'm happy to be alive.