When I hear stories of new love it tends to follow a similar path. He just gets me. I love everything about her. Then of course there is the declaration that the beloved is my BEST FRIEND. Drumroll please, we finish each other’s thoughts. And sentences. Jinx! I think this is adorable (unless they start touching each other’s faces, please, please do not do that). I also start to wonder right around that point how they feel about kayaking.
I consider myself athletic. By that I mean that despite evidence to the contrary I will maintain my (self-proclaimed) athleticism. There are many contradictions to my claim, such as when my husband “taught me to play catch”.
I had decided it would be super fun to learn how to catch a baseball with a glove. I was probably 20(ish) so I was fairly certain I should nail this down before I got too old and it was weird. Now, I had caught a ball before in a glove, but it had been some time and it looks pretty easy if you had asked me then…
We headed out to the side of our house and tossed the ball around, back and forth, easy lobs so that I caught it once or twice.(It was more like once). He made eye contact with me while he lobbed it, urging me to “open my glove” and “position my glove so that the ball could land in it” and “move toward the ball” while “keeping my eye on it” then the ball would hit the ground with a satisfied thud. I could tell he was getting bored and I was feeling pretty athletic from my one catch, so I suggested I was ready to have him throw a real throw to me. He declined. I insisted. He declined. I might have accused him of standing in the way of my one true happiness by denying me this simple request. The mosquitos were starting to come out and we didn’t have a plan for dinner yet. He conceded and threw a slightly off center medium power pitch so that I could see he was trying but it would avoid me. Ready to impress him with the skills that I thought I could summon when truly needed, I used all the tips I had learned and walked right into the ball, closing my nearly positioned glove to try to hold it. Against my eye. Which I had been keeping on the ball that hit it.
I started sobbing immediately. Thinking that I was being perhaps dramatic (I did not, despite valiant efforts, catch the ball, the thud I heard was not at all satisfying and he thought at first the tears were of frustration) he suggested we call the game. “It hit my eye”, I panic-screamed. “I watched it land, it couldn’t have hit that hard”, he said evenly, “pull the glove down, let me see your face”, he continued, interrupted by “Put pressure on it! Put the glove back on it!” I had a black eye for days, but the real pain came in retelling what had happened to which unanimously (cruel, heartless) people would say “Well, at least you caught the ball! HA-HA-HA”! Seriously, every time, just like Santa Claus’s HO-HO-HO… To which I would answer, “No. No, I did not”.
But my guy, he believes in me, which is why he is following this blog and also why he thought it would be really cool and fun if we got a kayak. And went kayaking. Together. In one. Still not touching each other’s faces. He could give you the specs of the yak (That is kayak lingo, I feel like you have been initiated) but what you should know is that it is yellow and two people can sit on it and its around seventy pounds and bulky to try to assist carrying when you don’t have a real sense of direction and perhaps didn’t “consider how we would get it in/out of the truck/water”. It also is an athletic endeavor.
The day before we set off for a nice long yaking expedition, he stressed the importance of having everything we would need. We would need safety supplies, water and snacks. (Are you picking up on a First Responder vibe?) As he packed the kayaks and the safety gear, I considered his multiple suggestions of bottled waters, of whole fruit and peanut butter wraps, or nuts or seeds or other snacks that would travel well. I might have been distracted thinking of how charming this whole thing was – just a coupla co-captains my fella and me…
At the beginning of our second hour in the summer sun while hitting paddles, over and over and over (an event akin to fencing or light saber fighting but with the bonus of water trickling down to your arm pit), he began to encourage me with aphorisms like “WORK WITH ME NOT AGAINST ME” and “WE ARE ACTUALLY GOING IN CIRCLES NOW”. He gallantly laid down his paddle and advocated we take a break, rehydrate and refuel. Glowing, I handed him my contribution. Four bottles of water, two granola bars and a sleeve of Ritz crackers. That is what I thought to pack for a multi-hour excursion. That is what I had been busying myself with while he finagled a small boat for two onto the back of his truck. When he carried life saving devices and paddles and sunscreen and a compass/whistle combination which he secured to the life jackets, I was throwing a few things into a Ziploc and picturing myself as the happily ever after Goldie Hawn to his Kurt Russell in Overboard.
It has been said that getting stuck is merely the feeling that precedes an opportunity to grow. That was a moment in time where my options were down to one thing, to learn from this. If you are going all day in the sun, you will get tired. You will get hungry and thirsty and impatient. But when you love someone you listen and you work together. You pay attention and you find the funny. We have another kayak now because there are four of us. When the opportunity presents itself we load up, even though it will be difficult and there might be meltdowns and it’s a lot of work. I pack like we might never eat again, coolers full of ice and drinks, sandwiches and snacks. Overkill some would say, for a quick trip. But he just gets me. We finish each other’s thoughts. That folks, that there is love.