Last night Valerie and I drove out to Old Town St. Charles to go to a surprise party for my old boss at Quantum Leap Skydiving. I was swept back into a family I had almost forgotten about.
There’s a Quantum Leap FaceBook group. The pictures everyone posts are from back in the day. In my mind, everyone still looks that young. In person, I almost didn’t recognize a few dear friends.
I’m constantly amazed by how much can change in a few short years. From 1990 to 1993 my life was a total adventure. There was never time to look back. In 1993 I got married and my whole skydiving world changed.
I remember being invited to a hot tub party by a couple I was jumping with. It didn’t occur to me I couldn’t bring my infant son. Looking back, I’m embarrassed by how incensed I was.
I think the best way to illustrate the effect is to look at how much the Beatles changed from 1965 to 1967.
Right now my friends and I are facing a lot of looking back. We’re asking ourselves if our lives meant anything really. Some of us are gone and some of us are going. The important thing is we’re still there for each other. Maybe this will pass and we’ll start looking ahead again, the next round.
Something in me feels guilty for living on. I almost want the rest of my life to fizzle into emptiness so I can say my friends didn’t really miss anything.
The big question everyone was asking last night was, “when’s the last time you jumped?”
Archway Skydive Centre is closing because of legal problems. I started with them in Sparta, Illinois. I worked there for years. My skydiving wedding was there when they moved to Vandalia.
We’re having an Archway reunion in Taylorville, Illinois in August. My buddy Dan Cunningham is organizing it. He’s had to warn everyone there that will be a bunch of old timers who aren’t current. There are going to be some crazy large formations!
I earned my Jump Master rating up there. I’ll never forget the wild dancing around a bonfire as a pretty girl poured schnapps down my throat. The following night, I partied with her at the local bar and found out she was 17.
Everyone I knew in Taylorville is dead now.
The surprise party was for Jim Cowan. He and I got our J ratings together in Taylorville. He and his brother Scott were in the world champion CRW team Quantum Leap. They were world champs for years. From that, they were able to get the first SBA loan for a skydiving operation. They made skydiving legit.
Their dad Curly was also an old friend of mine. He was a regular when I tended bar at the Broadway Oyster Bar in the 80s. He used to run a drop zone in Washington Mo called Ripcords West. I know quite a few world champs and they all grew up on DZs.
I’m 54 and feel like I’m just now middle aged. I’m looking ahead as much as I’m looking back.
Pic is Quantum Leap over Busch Stadium back in the day.