The rain just woke me, and after closing the window I was awake enough to start thinking, and a chain of thought lead me to a memory of one of those moments that stands out as beautiful in one’s life.
I stood on the edge of a cliff carved out of sandstone by the Gelt river just above Talkin Tarn. I’d gone up there with a group of friends. We were looking down at a pool and a waterfall, discussing whether it was safe to jump off, and something crazy took me – a rush of adrenaline as the decision immediately became action and I ran right over the edge. I felt my body accelerate, heard the air rush past my ears, before the sudden bite of the cold water, and the roar of hitting the water. My feet hit the bottom of the pool, the elation briefly turning to fear that I’d made a foul error, then my kick bringing me up through the murky water to the surface dappled with shadow and light, the sun shining through the leafy trees above.
I looked up to see my friends haloed by the sun high up above, then someone else dropping down through the air, and a sudden pop as they hit the water. Linda surged up and threw her wet hair back, washing it out of her face with her hands, looking back up at the cliff as I had just done. At that precise moment, my friendship turned to love – I’d never seen anything quite so beautiful as this moment – Linda rising up out of the water into the sunshine, a waterfall behind her, my skin tingling from the icy cold water, the taste of adrenaline and fear fading in my mouth.
The perfect moment passed, as the other friends, Amy and Adam, also leapt down, and we spent a precious hour or so swimming and jumping from the waterfall, before driving back to school.
When I thought of that just now before getting up to write it down, the moment sat aside from all that surrounded it, isolated from the anxieties of being 17 years old, from the mistakes and inaction that never let me share how I felt with Linda. Of course these thoughts brought themselves to the surface, along with the hindsight of how foolish it had been to jump off a cliff. But those things don’t matter just now as much as that beautiful moment recalled.