Time Stands Still

August 28, 2011
The brisk, fresh, mountain water flowed freely down the river. It didn’t take long for the water to gain momentum and create one of the strongest currents I’ve ever swam in. The whole situation was overwhelming. What if the current swept me away, or greedily pulled me under, claiming me for itself? I couldn’t back down now. I was the one that had persuaded my dad to bring us here. Now that we’d arrived at Black Bridge of Mexico, I was going to enjoy myself. After all, it was my absolute favorite place to swim.

Although I’d already jumped in, I still got butterflies in my stomach as I peered down at the frigid, rushing water. It was cold, to say the least. In fact, that was an understatement. Swift River was nippy and frigid year round. Whenever I’d been swimming there, it had always felt as if there should be ice-chunks floating over the ripples. I didn’t let these thoughts get to me. I’d always loved swimming in cold water. That’s how it had always been.

I hesitantly stepped back a few strides, took a deep breath, and lunged to the edge of the rocky, cliff-like structure. As I released every bit of energy into my jump, I could feel myself go air-born. My bravery was now the wind beneath my wings. I was a speeding bullet, gaining velocity as I broke through the surface of the water. Even though I had jumped not five minutes ago, the rush of cold water had swept through my body, making the ends of my fingertips and toes all weak and numb.

“That was great!” I exclaimed after I had emerged from the depths of the river-bottom. As I fought the current to climb back up the cliff, I pumped my fist and shouted a cry of encouragement to my cousin Chandler, who was only seven. He’d been surprised at how little time it had taken me to gather the courage to jump in. You could see the amazement in his eyes. We made visual contact, and he flashed me a warm, nervous grin.

I had intended to inspire him, and gear him up for it. After all, a twenty five foot jump was surely significant for a boy his age. Chandler had always made his feeble attempts at impressing me. According to everyone who’d seen us together, he looked up to me and had always wanted to exceed expectations I had of him. Now, on this warm, summer day, he’d have his chance to prove himself worthy of being my cousin, and do something even I would consider “cool.”

With a few last minute words of support and encouragement, Chandler glanced back at my aunt for reassurance, and took a small leap off the edge of the cliff. Surprisingly enough, he hadn’t slapped his arms on the water’s surface as I’d expected him to. Instead, he had gone into the straight and safe “pencil” position, and broke the surface with no problems at all. Honestly, I was stunned.

“Great job, Bud!” I shouted over the droning of the small, miniature-sized waterfalls.
“Ready to go again?”
“Yeah, that was awesome!” he replied, excitedly.
I was almost disappointed that he’d jumped off so quickly. I liked being in a position of dominance. It’s not often that I get looked up to; people don’t usually see me as the leader type. Now that I’d gotten a taste of power, I didn’t want to lose it. I had to gain that importance back, and quickly.
I pondered for a moment, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. This is Black ‘Bridge,’ but we’d only been jumping off the rocks. Maybe I should just get it over with, and be the first grandchild in our family to jump off the bridge. It seemed like a fool-proof plan. Besides, how many fourteen year old girls can say they’ve jumped off a forty foot descent into a rushing river? Most would be too scared. This was my new objective. It was the best way to gain back my stature.
As Chandler climbed out of the water, it was obvious he had been thrown into a state of shock. I had warned him the water was cold, but he didn’t seem to think it would be as chilling as it was. Not to say he didn’t trust me; he definitely did. He just had the same qualities as any naïve, seven year old. His eyes were bugged out of his head, and he had quickened his breathing patterns as he swam to the outlying, damp rocks. Maybe it wasn’t such a grand thing that he copied me so much. Hopefully, he’d learn that there were better ways to impress me than copying every little thing I did. I don’t always make the best of decisions, and I really didn’t want him to get hurt or forever frightened as he mimicked me. Maybe my lack of reaction to the water’s temperature made him tell himself the water wasn’t that cold. Either way, I really should’ve done something more to remind him how polar the water was.
“I’ll see you later, Chandler,” I remarked as I climbed the steep, slippery hill which lead up to the road – and the top of the bridge. He glanced up, with his close-to-blue lips. Chandler had caught my hint.
“No way! You’re really going to jump off?” he asked.
“Yeah. When you get good at stuff like this, you take more chances. Risk more. Besides, it’s fun. Want to come?”
Knowing he wouldn’t follow me up there, let alone jump, I downplayed the situation. I continued the short distance, and found myself peering down at the water’s surface. Thankfully, I wasn’t afraid of heights. The distance from where I stood to where I was going to hit the water was forty feet. The height was greater than fifty feet, if you included the distance to the river bottom.
I had to go now. I’d look like a downright fool if I didn’t go, and what would that prove to Chandler? Besides, I wasn’t the type that easily backed out of intimidating situations, such as this one. I was scared out of my mind, that was for sure, but I wasn’t going to weaken my reputation Chandler had of me. It would look awfully silly if I got up there and turned back. I wouldn’t be representing myself as the daredevil I truly am. Besides, if I couldn’t even jump this, how would I ever be able to live my dream- skydiving with my aunt on my eighteenth birthday? I had no reason I shouldn’t go besides my concern for my safety, which I wasn’t typically used to valuing.
“Okay, here I go…” I mumbled to myself.
I started to step out, and hastily pulled back. I got this tightness in my chest I always get from anxiety. What on earth was I doing? With each second that passed, I’d impress Chandler less. This stalling was defeating the purpose. Naturally – and almost accidently – I pushed myself a few feet from the edge of the crumbled cement, gravity pulling my body downward toward the river. There was no turning back now.
One of the first things I’d learned doing acts like this is to keep my composure. This completely contradicted what I’d learned; my arms were flailing in every which direction. I gathered myself a fraction of a second before my bare feet slapped the water, breaking the barrier between my nervousness and the sheer pleasure of bridge jumping; perhaps my favorite activity of all time.
The shock of cold water hadn’t come as much as a surprise as before. As I fully submerged into the water, I felt that dreaded tingling sensation, much expected. Once at the bottom, I could feel the smooth, clean river rocks on my legs and bottoms of my feet. I tried kicking my way to the surface. Just out of pure curiosity, I opened my eyes. The bright sun shone through the water, piercing my eyes, in strong, brown-colored beams. As the current raged, it picked up the river sand right off the ground, giving it a tinted, brown color. I certainly hadn’t expected this. It seemed like when I had jumped under the bridge, the place I landed before hadn’t had as rough of a current. I came to the conclusion that this was why the sand particles floated through this part of the river and stung my eyes. I closed my eyes for the rest of the ascent, knowing next time I jumped, I would avoid getting anything in my eyes.
Before long, I was greeted by the chants of my little cousin, who was obviously impressed. As I swam to the side to pull myself out of the water, I was bombarded with the questions of the typical seven year old boy. Questions like, “How did it feel?” and “Did you touch the bottom?” I just enjoyed the attention.
The fun didn’t last as long as I would’ve liked it to. We left about an hour later. But in that hour, I had jumped off the bridge at least a dozen more times, feeling as good after each jump as the one before it.
As my father drove my aunt, cousin and I to my grandfather’s house, I could overhear my dad and aunt talking.
“Hey, Lisa, who do they remind you of?” my father asked.
“Haha. Yeah... Those were good days, huh, Tim?”
“Oh yeah. I think they enjoy the bridge as much as we used to.”
My cousin told me his ambitions of jumping off the bridge when he was older, as I had.
“Were you surprised when I jumped off that quickly?” I asked him.
“No way, Case. You can do anything!” he replied.
I laughed.
“Anything? I like the sound of that!”

I may not do everything my cousin insists I do, but I hope to always be there for him as his own personal source of support and inspiration. I may not always make the brightest decisions. In fact, I make a lot of regretful ones. With him copying my actions, as we grow older together, I hope he learns how to determine what’s a good decision and what’s a bad decision – from my mistakes, as well as his very own. As a result, he can avoid making some of the negative decisions I made at his age (whatever that age may b). As his oldest cousin, I’d like to teach him to take chances, and live life to the fullest.





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