Leap of Faith  

Today seems like a particularly good day to resuscitate an old post, seeing as I fell down a flight of stairs this morning and my slightly-concussed head is telling me to cherry pick an old yarn about me hurting myself like an idiot. So it was either this or the one where I stuck a drill down my pants and bad things happened (I promise I'll post that one some day). Plus, this story was featured on Crackout Blackout earlier in the year, and by "featured" I mean it was their second post ever because I know one of their site admins and I just happened to have some content ready to go. But it really is a good story. Oh, and it's pretty long, so have fun skimming.

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College for me was a time of uncertainty. I went into it as a headstrong kid from a small town determined to make my mark... as a marine biologist. That's why I picked a college on an island in the first place. Almost immediately, problems began to arise. The biggest and most obtrusive was that I came to realize I don't really like the ocean all that much. Somehow I had romanticized the entire profession a la Jacques Cousteau; saving the world and looking badass, which by the way is twice as impressive when you're French.

As I lay in limbo, distraught by the circumstance of not having a "path," or a "career goal," I focused more on cultivating the social aspect of my life. Prior to college, I had only been drunk twice, if you could even call it that. My inexperience with alcohol coupled with the binge drinking that is the norm on college campuses led me to many a blurry night and regretful morning. I have more than my fair share of drunken tales, most of which are pieced together from fuzzy recollection and third party accounts, but there is one time that stands out. It was definitely one of my most inebriated moments, yet I remember it with perfect clarity. This can probably be attributed to the night's sobering finish.

In the beginning it was shaping up to be another fantastic voyage through unsupervised debauchery. I had taken second place in a Tekken 2 tournament earlier, and was using the plastic trophy I won to drink from, calling it my "chalice of conquest." Pearl Light, the most economically sound brew in Texas, was our vintage for the evening, and everyone was heartily drinking their fill.

As with any on-campus housing on a Saturday night, there is usually more than one party happening concurrently. This lends to a very open-air social atmosphere, allowing partygoers to float from apartment to apartment, marinating in the different spice blend offered by each unique setting. Needless to say, four hours and five apartments had taken its toll on me, but I was in a good place. Every joke or story seemed hilarious, and as long as there was a wall or person supporting me, I was still standing.

How quickly things can change. Since it was past midnight and some people actually value sleep the door had been closed, although people would still just come and go as they pleased. Because of that, a hush fell over the party when a loud knock came to the door. Closer inspection from the peephole by someone prompted a shrill cry of "It's the police!" This was not good, for the most obvious of reasons. Here I was -- 18, drunk, in an apartment full of beer and other assorted contraband, and there was also this guy passed out on the couch who I was beginning to think might be dead.

Another loud pounding on the door, this time followed by a deep voice, "Open up!" Anyone holding out on this being a prank (myself included) was crushed. By now I was the best mix of drunk and awake that my body could manage. I believed my mind clear enough to think of a way out of this. A quick scan of the room proved futile, that is until I noticed someone out on the porch. The porch, of course! Despite the cops being right outside, I felt I stood a better chance running out in the open than with the 20 other people crammed into this two bedroom apartment. I made a quick, gazelle-like move through the party, out the sliding glass door. One hand on the railing, an easy jump, and I was up and over, freedom-bound. Or so my "clear" head was telling me.

There had been one fatal flaw in the grand design of my plan. It was every other party I had been to that night that was on the ground floor. This latest party had in fact been on the second floor. Meaning the porch was actually a balcony, and the easy escape I was planning took an immediate wrong turn. I recognized the error of my ways right around the moment I cleared the balcony and removed my hand from the railing. Interestingly enough, the most distinct thing I remember before gravity set in was the guy who had been out on the balcony. Prior to my jump he was just standing there, looking down over the edge, but when I was at the peak of my jump, he looked up and our eyes met for a brief instant. He had the most dumbfounded look on his face that I have ever seen, and all I could think was, "What's this guy's problem?"

Then I fell. It was far from spectacular. I didn't have the time or brainpower to try some fancy tuck and roll. I just landed on the bush like a sack of potatoes, flattening it. I floundered to get untangled for almost a minute before springing to my feet. I shook out my arms and legs; my hip hurt but nothing seemed to be broken. I know it wasn't a long fall by any standards, but I thought for sure my poor execution had crippled me somehow.

I glanced back up to the balcony, and the guy said to me, "Are you OK?" I only raised my hand to acknowledge him and then hurriedly hobbled home. I didn't even take my shoes off before sinking into bed exhausted, bruised, but thankfully citation-free.

You know how some people relate their hangover to being hit by a truck? Well I looked like it. I had crashed with my door open, and my roommate saw me the next morning and woke me to see if I was OK. "Yeah, of course, I'm fine," I told him. "Are you sure? What the hell happened to you?" Upon closer inspection I could understand his concern. I was covered in dirt, and there were loose leaves all over my bed and stuck to my clothes. I also had several large scratches on my arms and face, and some dried blood with bit of leaves and dirt stuck to it. The walk to the shower was a march of death; every muscle ached and burned with each step.

The aftermath could have been equally bad had I not kamikazed off the balcony. Back at the party, the police issued 16 MIP's (minor in possession for all you straight laces out there), and the residents of the apartment were kicked out for a completely different type of possession (and I don't mean the devil).

If there's one thing this entire ordeal taught me, it's this: When you don't look before you leap, you're eventually going to land on your ass.

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9 Reasons to Live

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