How Skydiving Changed My Life - Cody Marsh
by Cody Marsh | B-29614 | San Diego, California
This story begins long before I ever strapped on a parachute for the first time, long before I saw “Point Break” and long before I even knew what a parachute was.
I was orphaned before my fourth birthday. I grew up always being raised by someone else’s parents, in someone else’s life. I never had any sense of belonging as I moved from home to home, family to family, state to state. I always noticed I was the kid who didn’t have a father cheering on the sidelines, didn’t have a mother to make a T-shirt with my number on it to wear to the victory celebrations. I grew up feeling very alone in this world.
When I turned 18, I did what every troubled and lonesome teen did in the wake of a global war: I joined the Marine Corps. My first deployment sent me around the western Pacific, solving the world’s problems and letting me make foolish decisions in underdeveloped countries. It was here that skydiving first came to light. After trying to do anything crazy that I could possibly do, I found that a friend of mine tried skydiving, a tandem, in Thailand. I refused to be shown up. I can be equally crazy.
As soon as I made it back to California, where I was stationed, I started Google searching “skydiving” and “skydive training” and all of that wonderfulness. I found that there were several drop zones that were close by. I don’t know why, but I chose Skydive San Diego in Jamul, California. That moment changed my life forever.
A week later, I finished the first part of the AFF progression. A month later, I was holding an A license, and before the end of the year (it was already September) I had a B license. I was hooked.
When I left the Marines in 2009, I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a job. I was alone again. I tried going to school in Oklahoma, only to feel just as left out, out of place. I was lost. I used social networking sites to stay in touch with all of my friends, especially those in the skydiving communities I had left behind. One of them, Mathias, strongly encouraged me to return to skydiving and to return to California. After a little deliberation, I did.
At this point, I had no family, no job, nothing. I begged Blake, the manager at Skydive San Diego, for a job. I can pack; I can mow grass; I can manifest—something, anything. Knowing the drunken lout I was when he knew me before, he instinctually refused. Finally a break came. Skydive San Diego was looking for a manifest clerk and was taking resumes. I spent seven hours on a Saturday night perfecting the best resume and cover letter I have ever assembled. On Sunday morning, I turned it in to Blake. On Monday, he went against all of his dispositions and offered me a job.
The job I got was not the job I applied for. In fact, it was probably the worst job on the drop zone. For very little pay, I had to gear up tandem students and carry tandem rigs to and from the landing area at a very busy and very big drop zone. But I was thrilled; I was working in the industry.
The owner of the drop zone, Buzz, also operates a very successful military freefall course on the same drop zone, and one week in November, they needed a packer. Needing the extra work to pay bills, I quickly volunteered. I ensured that the rigging loft manager knew who I was and that he could call me again. Six months later, he called. He needed a full-time packer for another course. I was there. I misunderstood him, though. I thought I was hired on permanently and quit my exhausting job at the civilian drop zone to pack for the military. He later informed me that he had hired three new riggers and there wouldn’t be space for me there.
Once again, I got lucky. One of the riggers he had hired was looking at a job elsewhere and decided to take the other job. Scott, the loft manager, made a deal with me: If I got my rigger’s ticket in less than a month, I could be a full-time rigger there. I got my rigger’s ticket in two weeks.
I now have everything I could ever dream of. It’s like I’ve witnessed people make me, rather than self-profit, a priority. I get respect; I get love; I fit in. It’s so difficult to explain, but I think that I have found where I belong. I have an amazing life, an amazing job and an amazing family here at Skydive San Diego.