E. convinced me to try it as we sat in his living room one night, while eating chocolate-covered figs. He retrieved a Swiffer from the crowded broom closet and taught me how to paddle. He sat down next to me on the couch, handed me the Swiffer, and we pretended we were on a boat. I expressed my doubts. He shrugged and suggested that all the guys who do it are really fit and good-looking. The whole situation was comical, and I bought into it. I mean, there were chocolate-covered figs involved. Of course I was tricked!
The next day, he texted me at like 8:23am and asked, “You awake?”
Ugh. So I pulled on my stupid tiny bike shorts and geeky waterproof shoes to trudge downstairs for my first dragon boat practice. We arrived at the World’s Fair Marina, already drenched in sweat. The heat was nearly unbearable, even for me(!) I felt my hair immediately growing lighter, my skin growing darker.
We got on the water. I felt like I couldn’t breathe after every run. But E. was right in the end. All the common suffering buoyed us, and I just reminded myself what he promised (tricked?) me: “Yeah, it seems like you’re doing to die and you won’t make it through the sprint. But TRUST ME it will make you forget all the suffering your heart is going through.”
… yeah. sho’ did. For a hot minute.
Before we went out on the water, the very fit and good-looking guy in front of me (that part wasn’t 100% a lie) turned around while the boat was still docked and introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Jack,” he said.
“Hi, I’m Rose,” I replied.
“Oh man. It’s like… Titanic! We met on a boat together!” he ventured, grinning. Which makes this the first time in history a guy has initiated the cheesy part of the Titanic reference with utter sincerity. “Just promise me you’ll never let go.”
You really can’t make this up, even if you wanted to.
So yeah, um. After that, I paddled the sh*t out of that race, my eyes following his paddle the whole time (I got lectured later about the difference between paddling and rowing).
That evening, my roommate brought home a whole bag of Jamaican sweet currant rolls and asked if I wanted any. I told myself, I deserve this.
And yes, I believe I do. I deserve this life. My heart sure will go on.
You can’t have everything at once. But give me one of each: the sun on my face, the water, a way to paddle to another shore, and the ability to write myself out of any storm.