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It’s Not You, It’s Me

The time I discovered…

Haley Pannier

Australia

I’m a quick learner….or so I thought I was. There’s nothing like being humbled doing something you’ve done for nearly two decades, daily I might add, to make you realize you *might* actually not be Black Widow. Jumping into a car in Australia, where the steering wheel happens to be on the complete opposite side, helped me realize my mere human status. Quickly. Just changing lanes proved to be overwhelmingly hard. It’s like my brain couldn’t figure out that the windshield wiper controls now belonged to my left hand. So every time I switched lanes, I was the crazy rental car cutting people off…but if the other capable drivers looked closely, they would have noticed my wipers furiously wiping my dry windshield as I cruised into the next lane. It’s a learning curve I actually grew to love, because I have always loved driving. And now, the simple act of switching lanes was an adventure. (But so sorry about cutting you off, multiple Australian drivers)

So, since mastering driving (again) was so fantastic, I decided jumping out of a plane should follow. Naturally. I found a lovely tandem master who’d strap us together and help me overcome my fear of falling to the earth. I wish I could say I stayed calm, cool, and collected as we gained altitude in that tiny plane, but that wasn’t the case. Igor was so nice, pointing out all of the sights we could see down below in Melbourne while I was busy plastering a cartoon-sized smile on my face so I wouldn’t say anything to give my intense fear away. I wrapped my feet under the belly of that plane and let Igor do the rest–as in jump, pull the cord, and steer us perfectly down into the park 14,000 feet below. Once we were back on the ground, the whole experience was so magical I didn’t have words to express what the previous 5 minutes had meant to me. Instead, I just jumped into his arms and when he laughed and asked, “Why can’t you speak?”, I told him, “It’s not you, it’s me!” Because when you find out you aren’t, in fact, Black Widow or Superman, but also know you somehow made it through the harrowing streets and skies of Australia, words escape you. It’s something you feel. And that’s when you know you’ve been changed by a place, and you take a moment to appreciate it. Then you get that giddy feeling knowing more is yet to come.


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