The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my father Amit, over the phone. In this section of the interview, I asked him about his experiences when he first moved to America from India. Amit told me a story about how he and a newly formed group of friends in the states decided to try something adventurous. When the topic of Skydiving came up, Amit thought he was crazy when he said yes. What followed was my father overcoming one of his biggest fears and having such a great time that he decided to go again a few years later. <br /><br />

   Amit stood at the 4 inch-thick door separating him and the atmosphere that threatened to swallow him whole. He could only sneak furtive peeks outside at the shifting landscape below before self-preservation tore him away. 

   Amit couldn’t move much, but every fiber of him was screaming, pleading at him to run. It was some primal safety mechanism that urged him to break loose of the harness and somehow find the ground again. 

   It must have shown on his face. The instructor repeated the question Amit had already signed away in dozens of pages of paperwork. “You don’t have to do this, you know. Once we get any higher you’ll lose your deposit.”

   Amit wasn’t in too deep yet. What had even come over him when he agreed to jump out of a freaking plane??

  “Don’t tell me you’re gonna chicken out now, we’re already in the air!’ Hosei chided him from across the interior of the small propeller plane while strapped to his own jump instructor. “You’re the one who wanted to do this!”

    Amit’s instructor interrupted both of them. “We’re at jump altitude, get ready to move towards the door”. The sound of the door being flung open was deafening as the air rushed in, There was no more back and forth. Amit could only manage to wiggle at a snail’s pace. Each inch of movement weighed him down, but he managed to slowly approach the door. His mind was blank as he made peace with the great expanse of blue in front of him.

   Suddenly the air was sucked violently out of his lungs and the propeller wings fell out of view. He was tumbling through the air at a hundred miles per hour, but to his surprise, he didn’t feel like he was falling. The wind whipped up his hair but seemed to stabilize him like a brace. 

   Amit put his hand out against the backdrop of cerulean and stared to make sure he was really plummeting towards the earth. “You’re really falling” the instructor laughed, and Amit remembered that he was strapped to another person. He must have been thinking out loud.

   “This isn’t so bad, is it?” the instructor yelled, trying to overpower the sound of wind rushing past their ears. “Now enjoy it”!

   Amit realized the fear he had felt before had dissipated, and it had turned into something else. It was exhilarating, and Amit stopped fighting against gravity. He allowed himself to summersault through the open sky. 

   Amit could see Hosei some hundred feet away, angling himself to get closer. Amit waved and shouted. “This is incredible!! I can’t believe it!!” 

   Amit then looked towards the ground. From up here, the earth looked like some kind of petri dish, an impossibly small map of greens and browns. The sight made him smile. For the first time since the plane made its ascent, Amit felt completely calm.

Somersaults

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1996
Hazelton, Pennsylvania

I interviewed my father Amit, over the phone. In this section of the interview, I asked him about his experiences when he first moved to America from India. Amit told me a story about how he and a newly formed group of friends in the states decided to try something adventurous. When the topic of Skydiving came up, Amit thought he was crazy when he said yes. What followed was my father overcoming one of his biggest fears and having such a great time that he decided to go again a few years later.

Decade: 1990s
Rating:
Recorded by Hemani Kapoor on March 12, 2020
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