“Who’s going to jump first?” Denise asked us.
It was a typical day at Lake Tenkiller, the sky spattered with a few anemic clouds and the air thick with moisture. Our group of four friends had gathered atop a bluff called “Party Naked,” that shelved over the lake thirty feet below. I was the new kid. I had just moved to Oklahoma from California. Tall, lanky, with long mousy brown hair, I was the oddball of the group. This was the first time I had been invited to the lake, mostly, I suspected, because I was the oldest and had a driver’s license and an old, gold, beat-up Chrysler Laser.
Looking from Denise’s big brown eyes, the freckles that smattered her cheeks and nose to the edge of the bluff three stories above the water, it wasn’t lost on my pubescent mind that I was doing this to impress her. This was a pivotal point. A first impression with this new group. And Denise.
They had all done this before, allegedly. And my hormonal, naïve, fast-food-riddled brain didn’t even question why she was asking for volunteers if they’d all done this before.
I edged close to the space where the solid rock met air. My wet feet slipped slightly on the stone and my stomach contents broiled from the adrenaline. But I kept telling myself: It’s only thirty feet. You can’t die from this. Not exactly a leap of faith. I could see the water. More like a leap from peer pressure and fact. I made up my mind and the thinking stopped.
What felt like five minutes took about four seconds. I splashed into the warm surface of the lake with a slight sting to the bottoms of my feet and plunged into a refreshing cool bath. I came back up out of the water, baptized and never to be the same, to the cheers and shouts of my new friends.
Life is full of leaps taken and those not. I’d rather leap.