As part of my ongoing transformation into a forest person, I’ve been spending as much time in the woods as I possibly can. And so, when my upstate camping trip was over, I packed up my shenis and went straight to a cabin in New Hampshire. For those who haven’t been, it’s a beautiful state full of trees, lakes, and majestic vistas. Also: danger. Lots and lots of danger.
I went with my boyfriend Sean and our two friends, Asher and Natasha, as well as their dog Motor, who I’m convinced is as smart as an 8-year-old. We stayed at a cabin owned by a friend of Sean’s family in a cute little town called Jaffrey. One day, we thought it would be cool to swim in a quarry we’d heard was nearby, but we weren’t sure how to get there, so we stopped by one of the cheaper-looking convenience stores in search of miscreant teens. These teens, we reasoned, would know what was up, and take us to the quarry in exchange for some beers and a few bucks. (Don’t tell the cops.)
It wasn’t long before some 13-year-olds straight out of Gummo rolled up on their BMX bikes. “Hey kids!” we shouted, feeling only mildly creepy. “Hey! Can you help us with something?” We explained to them what our deal was, and they agreed to take us for $10 and four cans of Budweiser.
We followed the peppy little guys in our car, and I wondered if I’d ever have that kind of energy again. They were probably stoned at the time, too. Or on bath salts, or whatever drugs miscreant teens are doing these days. We parked in the parking lot of an apartment complex, and they took us through the woods to the quarry.
It was fucking beautiful.
There were, however, some spray painted swastikas which I probably should have taken as a bad omen, in retrospect.
As unnerving as this was, I sort of felt like I’d be letting the Nazis win if I didn’t jump in that quarry and have as much fun swimming in it as possible, so I set about jumping off a cliff.
The way this quarry was set up, there were multiple heights that you could jump from, from “scared little wuss” to “king of the woods.” I quickly worked my way up to the second-to-top one (king of the woods’ concubine?). I’ve always had these two conflicting poles in me, of being the product of a protective Jewish upbringing in the suburbs wherein I was told to avoid physical injury at all costs, on the one hand, and being kind of an adrenaline junkie on the other. I love doing scary shit. And everything scares me, so the possibilities are endless.
It didn’t take long before we noticed the rope swing. Apparently, one was meant to climb up the tree it was attached to, grab hold of the rope, swing, and jump into the water below. Terrifying, right? There was no way I was jumping off that rope swing. Unless…someone else went first, maybe?
Sean and Asher went first and made it look like fun. Here’s how it’s supposed to look:
Easy, right? Maybe I would go on it, after all.
“It’s safer than drugs,” Asher told me, failing to take into account my relative level of experience with both. But this seemed like sound logic at the time, so up I went.
Here’s how I executed my jump. Before you watch this video, please be reminded that I’m totally fine and sitting at my desk right now, limbs and head intact.
As you can see, I lost my grip on the rope almost immediately, hitting my knee on the ground. But I had enough forward momentum going so I still went headfirst over the edge, executing a complete flip, narrowly missing the rocks, and landing in the water below. Damn you, Nazi quarry.
Sean was so freaked out he almost deleted the video, but I yelled at him through the blood and the tears that he’d better not or I’d get really mad. He was still white as a ghost when I got out of the water, but when I watched the video, I burst out laughing, because that’s often my reaction to horrible things. Plus, wipeout videos are funny. They just are. Bob Saget built an entire empire upon that immutable fact. But the difference between a snuff film and something that could be on America’s Funniest Home Videos is smaller than most people want to consider. Shift me a half an inch to the left, and it’s no longer fun for the whole family, but something shady dudes jerk off to in the darkest corners of the internet. Life is weird, sometimes.
Some people might have gone home after that, but I wasn’t hurt too badly, and again, wanted to show the Nazi quarry who was boss. So we kept on swimming until the early evening. Motor was very concerned about me after that, running down to the bottom of the rocks each time I jumped in the water and whining at me until I was safely out again. His doggy sense told him I had no business attempting such things.
We got extremely lost in the woods without the kids to guide us back, but eventually we got home to soak our weary bones. As I applied Neosporin to my waterlogged cuts, I felt a sense of achievement that I’d gone through a harrowing experience and lived to tell the tale. Try as it might have, the Nazi quarry couldn’t get me. It couldn’t even bum me out. The next time I’m feeling stressed, I’m going to remember that I’m an unbreakable barbarian who stood up to Nazis, and everything will be okay. But I might still work a little on my dismount.