And we dive.

It’s a funny thing about jumping; no matter how prepared you think you are, the fall always knocks the brevity right out of you.

The summer before my 18th birthday was a hot one–in more ways than one. Being from the wet side of Washington State, it wasn’t uncommon for most of us to come from non-air-conditioned homes/cars/work places. When the temperatures hit the nineties, kids with weak, western Washington blood running through their veins got desperate. We did the only intelligent thing, bridge jumping. Because obviously throwing yourself off a large structure and falling tens of feet to the rapid cold water beneath was so much more refreshing than, oh say, swimming.

Perhaps I’m using the term “we” a little too inclusively here. My cousins and friends would go bridge jumping while I sat on the river’s edge, dipped my toes in the current, and clapped at their bravery. This would be because I’m the world’s biggest wimp (according to my cousins). I spent most of the heat wave that summer listening to chicken calls and trying to defend my intelligent terror.

But temperature has a funny effect on people who are bored and overheated. It only took a week or two of peer pressure before I found myself, one hot July afternoon, standing at the railing of a very high, very industrial looking bridge.

 And they said I wouldn’t jump.

Honestly, I think the only thing that actually got me out on the ledge was watching my skinny little 14-year-old cousin shimmy over the railing, step two feet out onto the large metal beam that ran suspended beneath the bridge by some sort of engineering magic, and plunge to his (not quite) death without so much as a whimper.

I remember putting my cold hands on that sun-hot railing and swinging my right leg over to straddle it. Getting the other leg to agree to this move was more of an effort, since it seemed to think that we shouldn’t mess with dry land. Once I finally had my entire body on the unsecured side of the bridge, it was just a matter of forcing my rubbery legs to step down to the lower beam. (And yes, I probably should have used the restroom before I got up there.)

Longest. Step. Of. My. Life.

Finally there I stood, seventy (okay thirty) feet from the rushing water below with nothing to stop me from going back but my pride. I had no idea how the fall would feel; exciting? Elating? Terrifying? Would I hit that one rock everyone warned me about and die? Would I feel like a bird or a stone, and which one was better? A breath, a whisper, a step and…


 No one told me I should jump feet first, straight like the arrow. By the time I landed I was in a sitting position, and holy moly but that river spanked me like a naughty school girl. That was, inevitably, my one and only plunge.

We fly to Germany in 72 hours and I feel once again like that girl on the bridge. I can look down and see the water, cool and refreshing and exciting and scary. But standing here I’m still a world away from the fall.

What about the language? The food? My children’s happiness? Will there be friends, or decent grocery stores, or English movie theaters? Will we miss The Office and college football and Sunday dinners with the family?

Some of the answers will be yes and some will be no, but still I feel compelled that this jump is exactly what my family needs right now.

Here’s hoping this time I land on my feet.


  1. Are you tired of me yet? I seem to be commenting on your posts regularly now! Anyhow, you have me in tears again…maybe it’s because my move from Oregon to Alaska is still so fresh in my mind…your story hits a little too close to home! Or maybe it’s because I feel blessed to still be in the US where i do have decent grocery stores and movies in English. Enjoy this adventure….your kids will settle faster than you do (my 4 yr cried for two weeks because he wanted to go back to Oregon where his grandparents are, I am still crying because I have nobody!). You will learn to live with what you do have and you will come to find that you didn’t need what you don’t! Have a safe trip 🙂

  2. Mary Richards says:

    I am so excited for you — and know exactly how scary this can be too. Well, I don’t know it as a parent, but all growing up my family moved every 2 years for my dad’s job with the government. I remember loving each new place and culture. But more importantly, it made me very close to my family. My siblings became my best friends, because we were all we had each time we moved. Here’s hoping this move will only make your family closer!

  3. I can’t believe you are really leaving!

  4. Good luck, Annie! I’m sure there will be some exhilaration and some spanking, but I think you’ll survive it all and be grateful for the whole experience. It will shape you and your kids in ways that are meant to be. I hope you love it.

  5. Definitely feet first or you might get an instant enema. Don’t ask me how I know. Doing scary things makes for a great adrenaline rush. Embrace it. The only other time I seem to get those is when I lose a kid in a store.

  6. Beautiful analogy Annie. Beautifully written.

    Good luck, I know its scary but you’ll do great! I hope everything goes smoothly with the move!

  7. Germany sounds a whole lot better than jumping off a bridge, lol! I’ve turned down many jumps into cold water and I’ve never regretted it, but I would seriously regret not taking the plunge into another country 😉

  8. that was a cute story…reminded me of “the bridge” where my parents l ive(and grangparents lived) and we’d jump off the rock ledge into the creek. (well, SOME of us did) I have this whole parnoia of getting my head under water!!!
    Living in a new place is difficult I think, but you have your little family with you and they will be your anchor.
    I miss my kids and grandkids so much. I had to subscribe (buy) a whole college football package in order to see as many US college games as possible (cause I am a fanatic)
    I go to the grocery store and can’t even find the same products I am used to cooking with…not to mention the crappy Metric system……and I am only in Canada.
    but you have to look at it as an amazing adventure and opportunity. Yeah, you don’t have to be there forever, but I PROMISE you’ll meet people you’ll end up loving and experiences you’ll cherish…cause that is the nature of liviing.

  9. I think you’ll do amazingly well. You’re awesome! Enjoy the journey. What an incredible journey.

  10. Have you read the Ensign’s “Brother, I’m committed!” article this month?

    Well, you’re committed – you’re mid-jump.

    And as one who has lived in another country, I’ll tell you how it will most likely be. You will land. You’ll think, “this isn’t that big of a deal!” … and then you’ll stumble. Trip a little bit. And that SECOND step is the most important. That’s the one that you need a sure footing of family and testimony. And then you’ll start walking with confidence.

    You will miss Target. You will miss American treats. You will miss your family and friends.

    And yet -you will have the time of your life.

  11. tennille says:

    We r thinkin of going 2 the zoo in k town tommorrow, would u all like 2 go? Will call in the morning if I don’t get an e mail, it is pretty late.

  12. Barb Davis says:

    Annie, your mom forwarded this “bridge” story to me and it reminded me of all my adventures as we moved along with dad while he was in the army! Lots of things I should be writing about! Maybe this will get me motivated.
    You will have a great time because you have great attitude and that’s all it takes!
    I know your family will miss you, but your writing will keep you close!