Back in my USC days, I was christened Lady of the Lake by a few fine Sigma Nu gentlemen and an undoubtedly cheap bottle of champagne. As such, it seems almost blasphemous that I have lived in Los Angeles for this many years without ever visiting my namesake. Ms. Lady of the Lake's statue at Echo Park Lake was restored just last year as part of the area's massive rehabilitation project. You won't find her in any of these pics because...well...there's only room for one LotL in a single frame.
Some of my favorite memories take place on my grandparents' farm in the 177-person town of Alexandria, NE. Limbo-ing our way under electric fences, learning the difference between cows and bulls, tiptoeing with trepidation toward the bank of the bottomless pond, shrieking in fear when my sister and cousins pretended to be Indians on the warpath.... (I'm from Nebraska. I was an impressionable child. Give me a break.)
Right before he passed, my Grandpa sold a solid chunk of acres to the state. All I know is that the purpose somehow relates to sewage, so I decided now was a better time than later to take yet another trek across the cornfields - with my sister, now as a less vengeful companion, my mom as tour guide, my father as grudging photographer, and my adorable nephew as a prop.
Saturday afternoon, I jumped off of a cliff. Intentionally. People who are well-versed in my love for adventure were unsurprised. People who know full-well how dearly I cling to the existence of my life were dumbfounded. I was somewhere in the middle. This vignette focuses not on the views of these nay and yay sayers, but on Jesus. Because, as you may have gathered from the title of this post, it was Jesus who wanted me to jump.
Let me back up.
A friend of mine mentioned cliff-jumping. I said I was totally down. I thought I meant it. Then I started thinking about my life, and how much I love having it. I’m a Taurus; I like having things. I concluded that adventures like skydiving and paragliding are awesome because they have built in safety precautions. They also have someone to blame when things go awry. In cliff jumping, there is no one guaranteeing your existence post-activity. Ok, there were 11 people doing this, but they were holding Tecates at the time, which slightly diminished their credibility.
Fast forward two weeks. Friend is moving to NY. Friend decides cliff-jumping will be his stellar going-away activity. Conflicted, I hesitate but eventually agree, although I make no promises to fling myself from any elevated heights. Friend gives limited details as to what is involved in this escapade.
I figure we will drive somewhere, with cliffs over-looking large bodies of water, and proceed to jump off said cliffs in our bathing suits. I picture flat lands complete with bathrooms and drinking fountains. With this in mind, I slather on a solid dose of sunscreen, tie on a bikini, throw on a crop top and a frilly skirt and trek out the door in my comfy black loafers, towel and flip flops in tow.
When I get to the apartment where we are all meeting up, I realize that almost everyone else seems to be in tennis shoes. Hm. Seems like an odd choice for a casual stroll off a cliff.
We walk over to grab some breakfast sandwiches while we wait for our crew to assemble. We choose to take it as a good sign when two of the actors from Lost show up – separately. Water. Cliffs. Death. Good to see the day has a theme.
18,000 wrong turns later, we make it to San Dimas. To a trail. Specifically, a hiking trail. Well-worn loafers are not conducive to maintaining traction. I am beginning to sense that I am ill-prepared for the day’s activity. I manage to scramble up the path with the group to the cliffs where I get a good look at the 45 feet separating us from the grotto and reaffirm my decision to stay on land. Unfortunately, I am 12 and I really do like to have adventures, even if said adventures have possible life-threatening side-effects. I also don’t like to not do something that everyone else is doing, because I am awkwardly competitive.
I decide I will jump. Problem. The route to get back up to the top post-jump is arduous and requires footwear. I am not taking this leap of tangible faith in my loafers.
I am defeated. My games are done for the day.
This is where Jesus comes into play. Sitting on the rocks, near our belongings, is a pair of beaten up Vans. They don’t belong to anyone in our group, and there is not another soul to be found. Abandoned shoes! I check the tags. At first glance, I see a size 8 and decide that I’ll attempt to shove my feet in them anyway. I look closer. They are a men’s size 8. This means they are a women’s size 9.5. For those of you failing to grasp the gravity of this situation, I am a size 9.5. These discarded kicks are exactly my size. Miracle much?
Ok, Jesus. I'll jump. Into the water that is - don't go getting any crazy ideas.