I’m not the most adventurous person in the world, so when one of my friends made a Facebook post early last week asking if anyone wanted to go to Just Jump, a trampoline park on Silverdale Drive in Johnson City, I was cautious.
“I’m too old for that stuff,” cynical David said, sitting in front of his computer drinking apple juice from a purple mug. “Besides, we’d probably be the only college students in that place.”
My college life has been largely defined by my distaste for adventure.
Should I go out clubbing with friends, or should I spend an evening making unique sandwiches out of random pieces of food I scavenged from the fridge?
Full disclosure: The inside of my refrigerator is a sad, barren wasteland that currently holds shrimp sauce, white bread, a jar of pickles, a half-eaten bowl of soup and a bar of chocolate. With the exception of the shrimp sauce, all those items belong to my roommate.
Do I spend my free time nourishing my mind with thoughtful conversation, or should I take a nice, lengthy nap and dream about a better world in which everyone’s just too tired and sleepy to worry about their problems?
The point? I wasn’t going into this with an absolutely open mind, but jumping in a building where the floor is made out of trampolines sounded like a childhood dream come true, so I bit my tongue and accepted the invitation.
When I entered Just Jump Monday, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people.
First-timers like myself are asked to sign a waiver before jumping, ensuring that the business isn’t liable for any injury that occurs on the premises. After the form is submitted, visitors pay for a pair of clingy socks and an hour of time in the jump area. They are also given colored wrist-bands that denote the time period for which they paid to jump.
Individuals were funneling into different sections when we walked into the jump area. In one, a group of boys were playing dodgeball on a series of trampolines, and in another, small children jumped several feet into the air to perform superhuman dunks on a couple basketball hoops.
In the back, trampolines were embedded into the ground and walls, enabling people to jump across the surface of the floor. A couple guys corkscrewed their way across the room, performing front flips, back flips, side flips and ruining any chance of me coming out of this looking semi-athletic.
“It takes some practice,” said my friend, casually performing an impressive back flip while I bounced in the same spot hoping God would pluck me from the air and place me gently into my bed.
Eventually, my goal became clear: before the end of the day, I was determined to perform a decent front flip. It didn’t have to be excellent, I just had to land on my feet.
Initially, my approach was all off. I lilted haphazardly to the right or left, horrified that I would land on my neck and die in the middle of a room full of happy families enjoying their Labor Day vacation.
After a series of failed attempts — several in which I rag-dolled helplessly into another person or a wall — I managed to land haphazardly on my feet ... before slipping onto my face.
My resolve was almost broken, but after another couple more near-death experiences, I plummeted violently out of the air into a crouching position with my feet planted on the ground.
“Heyo!” I said, reaching my hands up into the air, expecting the world to proclaim me Pharaoh and build a statue in my likeness.
“Wait, do it again. I didn’t see it,” said my friends.
When a woman came on the intercom to tell us that our time was up, I realized that my experience had been pretty enjoyable. My kneecaps hadn’t exploded from jouncing them into the ground too hard, and I wasn’t the least-coordinated person in the building.
Honestly, it’s very likely that I’ll end up going back. And next time, I’m going to try to complete a back flip ... if I don’t break my neck in the process.