A few weeks ago, D was telling me about a great memory he has of his mom teaching him how to float. He was pretty young when she did this and he instantly loved the sensation. I too thought back to those first floating experiences with my parents by my side (my annoyingly clingy, "remind me why we are doing this again" side). Floating scared me from the get go. I found the walk down memory lane clarifying: D is always curious, always testing the waters of the moment; I'm always worried it's too much, always thinking I will sink.
Something about water scares me; I don't trust it. It's not that I can't swim (8 years of swim team and a slew of swim meet ribbons will shut your mouth). It's really because I am grounded by land and not by water.
Two weekends ago we met some friends in Eleven Mile to play on the river. The water was outrageously powerful as it moved through the canyon. The sheer sound was overwhelming. The swift movement and volume was unbelievably fast. The guys balanced on the slack line and jumped in to the water from the boulder. One of them fell off on his first step out and cut his hand on a rock in the river before we got there. The whole situation was fairly safe but then again, it wasn't a controlled environment.
In between playing, the guys cautiously towed the kids on a inner tube attached to another rope connected to the slack line. The other women and I watched from the sidelines (admittedly one is pregnant). Maybe it was the hot afternoon or sitting quietly up river where things were more calm, but I felt unsettled, like I would highly regret not jumping in to the river. It certainly scared me but I guess in a strange way, the fear was what called to me. I couldn't let another silly experience pass me by because I was scared I might get hurt. I wanted to embrace the moment, not hide from the opportunity. I wanted my girl to watch me jump in; to watch me rise to the occasion rather than shirk some experience using my gender as an excuse in exchange for a subtle shot to the ego via the sidelines.
I approached the boulder and took off my tank top (not that kind of story, I had running clothes on). I considered the angle for a long time and tried to project how cold the water might be. I went back and forth in my mind knowing I would be okay and knowing I might die. Then again, both are true fact at any given moment. Fully committed I went to leap when a young boy reminded me to take off my sunglasses first. I took the glasses off, turned back, and went for it.
I'm glad I did. The experience proved much scarier in my mind than it was in real life. Though the river took me were it wanted, I was able to navigate the flow. I guess that was the sensation I was looking for: to prove myself able; willing; courageous enough to try.
The afternoon opened up after that. I played on the slack line (hanging from it, not balancing on it) and tried the inner tube. The movement was so fast it felt like I was like being towed behind a motor boat. I laughed with D and swam upstream as hard as I could to make it back past the boulder. I let the water take control and trusted I would figure it out if I got swept away.
Here's a video of D jumping off higher upstream.
(I would like to add: I lament for the time in my life when all I wanted to do was fuss my hair up, bump my shoulders, and split kick in the air like David Lee Roth. With the new hairdo, most mornings I look like I am in an 80s hair band; so I guess all I need to do now is focus on my flexibility... and GD this is a good video.)