I told S recently that thinking of her as my former co-worker felt wrong, like it was a story missing many pieces. Once upon a time, we had cubicles down the row from one another, but that doesn’t really explain how we got here, 25+ years later. Even back then, though, we were travel buddies. When our company sent us to Hawaii, we visited the rain forest and went snorkeling at a black sand beach. When our company sent us to Lake Tahoe, we went horseback riding. When our boss needed to find out some information that she couldn’t get any other way (pre-internet!), we rented a car and drove to Death Valley. And when I knew I was going to be staying in Arcata for a while, of course I went looking for an adventure for us. I sent her a link to a full day of river kayaking via the HSU Center Activities and then said, “Maybe that’s too much?”
I think S is constitutionally incapable of saying no to an adventure. She said yes, we registered, and on Wednesday, the day after we got back from camping, we went to the first part of the class: learning how to get out of a kayak after you’ve turned it over. That class was held in the Arcata swimming pool and was a nice intro to the idea that maybe this was going to be a scarier adventure than I’d envisioned. If you’ve read my blog regularly for a few years, you know that I like kayaking, but that I am a cautious kayaker (as, in fact, I am cautious about everything.) Kayaking on the St. Johns, the slowest river in the US, is about my speed.
This was not that kind of kayaking. This was the kind of kayaking where you wear a wet suit and a helmet and a PFD (personal flotation device) and the kayak has a sleeve over the seat opening to prevent your boat from filling with water as you splash your way down a fast-flowing river. This was the kind of kayaking where you find your way into a safe eddy and pull over to consider the risks of the next stretch of water. This was the kind of kayaking where the instructors shout “paddle harder, paddle harder, paddle, paddle,” to keep you from running smack into hazards in the water.
It was exceedingly fun.
Also, as Suzanne and I agreed at dinner, way outside our comfort zones. But next time it will be less outside our comfort zones. I actually already called this morning to register us for another class in two weeks, but they were closed to celebrate Caesar Chavez Day, another reminder that I’m not in Florida anymore.
Meanwhile, my plans for this week include writing lots of words. April is CampNaNoWriMo, which I didn’t know until I saw that the Humboldt Writer’s Group had set up a camp. I never made it back to another of their meetings, largely because they happen on Sunday afternoons, which is S’s only guaranteed day off and so typically a busy day. But I am going to join their camp and work on turning April into a month like last November was. I’d express my doubts, but I’m not even going there: it’s going to happen. Time to get to it!
Edited to add: After I hit Publish, I was still thinking about kayaking. While it was exceedingly fun, it was also a certain amount of scary and a fair amount of discomfort and a lot of uncertainty. The plusses outweighed the minuses, but I don’t want to rewrite my history to exclude the hard stuff or make it seem easier than it was. Worth doing, going to do again, but the moment halfway through when I thought, “I am so ready to be done with this,” was just as real as the moment when I got through some rough water and thought, “YES! Made it!” and gave an exultant grin.